With the college basketball season now in full swing with practice underway, prospects are getting a chance to see the schools on their lists in action up close and personal. Oklahoma State leads the charge this weekend with a number of players making it out to Stillwater. We break it down in this week's version of Fastbreak Friday.
Another weekend, another set of visitors
Sean Sutton and his staff have a big weekend on tap in Stillwater. A number of players are expected to see Oklahoma State on visits. This won't be the first visit for Houston area point guard Jai Lucas. His older brother, John, starred for the Cowboys. Lucas
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James Anderson, one of the top 10 players remaining left in the class of 2007, is one of he top targets for OSU and the visit could very well be his last one. Kentucky is working hard to get into the picture but this weekend's visit is important to watch regarding Anderson.
Class of 2009 studs Xavier Henry and Daniel Orton, AAU teammates from Oklahoma, will both in on hand for the homecoming festivities. Nick Sidorakis, an OSU 2007 commit, will also be in Stillwater for his official visit.
Since backing out of his pledge to Virginia, North Carolina native Eric Wallace has entertained recruiting pitches from Ohio State. The three-star forward will visit the Big Ten school this weekend.
According to the Las Cruces Sun-News, Pittsburgh forward Herb Pope is currently on an official visit to New Mexico State. The No. 23 ranked player in the class of 2007 is one of the top seven players in the country still uncommitted to a program. Reggie Theus and his staff snuck in and made some serious in-roads with the well-traveled big man. Pope, a one-time Pittsburgh commitment, is also looking at Maryland, Louisville, Kansas State and others.
Virginia is hosting in-state big man Mike Scott for an official visit. Scott is a teammate of Wallace at Hargrave Military. Scott has been a hot name on the recruiting radar this fall after impressing coaches with his play in open gyms.
Another Hargrave player is making an official visit. Michigan native Jordan Crawford, another late comer on the recruiting scene, is visiting Xavier.
After scoring a major commitment from J.J. Hickson last week, Sidney Lowe and his NC State staff are hoping to make a good impression on Orlando point guard Chris Warren. The three-star guard is making his first trip to Raleigh.
The Morris twins – Marcus and Markeiff - will see what Kentucky has to offer. As it stands today, the 6-foot-8 forwards are leaning towards spending a year at prep school before going the college route.
South Kent forward Papa Dia is making an official visit to Louisville. Georgia junior guard Tanner Smith is making an unofficial visit to St. Joe's. Pitt is hosting center Anthony McClain, the top remaining center in the country.
Showing off their stuff
Rivals.com spent last weekend in Orlando for the Breakdown Battle for the Rankings event and caught the top players in the Sunshine State in action.
It came as no surprise that some of the top players at the event included Lake Howell teammates Nick Calathes, Chandler Parsons, both Florida commitments, and Joey Rodriguez, a VCU pledge. The three are the foundation for the nationally ranked program that will compete in some of the top high school tourneys this season.
Also impressive were Alvin Mitchell, who scored 35 points to Parson's 38 in the camp's best individual match-up. Five-star sophomore Kenny Boynton played his usual aggressive offensive game, scoring at will around the basket with constant drives to the hole. Chris Warren and Gary Clark both played strong for their respective teams as well.
There are few players in the class of 2008 that have made the kind of improvement that Eloy Vargas has made. Less than two years ago, Vargas was a skinny and inexperienced import from the Dominican Republic that showed little promise as a prospect.
Those days are long gone. Vargas was the top junior at the event in our eyes and looked every bit like the high-major player his coaches have been touting him as. Vargas has momentum going into this season and should be a name that bounces around the high-major recruiting picture all year long.
Dashan Harris was a pesky as a mosquito that reside in the Florida swampland around Montverde Academy. The athletic point guard made more defensive plays than any other guard all camp long. He matched players step for step and made several incredibly athletic plays at the basket for blocked shots. In a camp that was guard driven, Harris did the things to help separate himself from the rest of the pack but also raised the defensive intensity of his Montverde club.
Harris has an uncanny ability of getting the ball in front of him in a hurry and sprints down the floor on the offensive end of the floor. That small skill lead to several assists. In a half court set, Harris is a patient pilot of the offense and does a great job of feeding the post and finding his wings rolling off of screens. His jump shot is still a work in progress
Arlington Country Day rookie James Bell hasn't played in a high school yet in his young life but he is making a lot of noise in the Sunshine State these days. After playing well at the Nike Team Florida showcase three weeks ago, Bell picked up where he left off and shined at the Battle for the Rankings camp.
The 6-foot-6 freshman is a long and lanky wing that does a great job of working the baseline and uses his size to play above the rim. Bell plays with a confidence to him that the good ones have. He didn't shy away from any challenges and with added strength, experience and the instruction at ACD, he'll be counted amongst the best in his class.
Tennessee Tech has a sleeper in David Minaya. Once Minaya hits the weight room and puts some meat in between his broad shoulders, he should shape up to be a fine player for the Ohio Valley school. He put on a shooting clinic from the perimeter, scoring at least four threes a game.
Akemi Afikimpende was one of the nice surprises down low for the Montverde team. The 6-foot-6 forward could not be contained on the blocks and seemed to score whenever he wanted to. His relentless energy allowed him to rebound everything that came off the rims as well.
Justin Cecil, a 6-foot-7 forward from Lakeland Christian, was a pleasant surprise at the camp. He was a basketball player. Not a spot up shooter. Not just a rebounder. Not a great athlete. He was a guy that made plays and understood how to make them. The southern academic schools should take note of him.
Carlos Figueroa, a 6-foot-5 small forward from Tampa Chamberlain, chiseled out a name for himself at the event. Always playing with energy and poise, Figueroa was a bucket from the midrange and in. His fundamental skill set is strong and should be a name for the low and mid-majors to follow this season.
Teamed with four-star junior Luke Loucks now at Clearwater High School, Justin Morin may find himself playing into more scholarship offers. Already a hot name with low and mid-majors, Morin should see more one on one situations and be the beneficiary of Loucks's great passing. Morin is a fine shooter but also showed off good athleticism an ability to do things with the ball.
The Jacksonville crew – Dante Anderson, Ed Nixon and Shaquille Johnson – didn't play to the level that they are capable of. Expect Johnson. He got better each game out and was one of the top guards at the entire camp as both a scorer and a point guard.
Another Jacksonville player to keep an eye on is 6-foot-8 forward P.J. Gaynor. His game is all about toughness, rebounding, working hard on the blocks and intimidating opponents. There is a great old school quality to the class of 2008 forward that the mid-majors will love to have out of him.
Zach Bailey may not receive the pub that so many other Florida guards get but the 6-foot combo from American Heritage is a good mid-major plus prospect. His ability to score off the dribble and quick speed with the ball separates himself from the dime a dozen other smaller combo guards in the Southeast.
Gaby Belardo, a 6-foot-2 shooter, may be the most improved player for Kevin Sutton at Montverde Academy this season. A lot of that has to with Harris now running the point. Belardo does a great job of running off of screens to get his shots and Harris is one of the few players that knows how to find him in motion for the open buckets.
Adam Pegg, a 6-foot-9 center, was one of the top post players at the venue. And he just continues to get better. After a ho-hum summer with Team Florida, Pegg is putting in the work to be a guy that can catch on at a mid-major school. His post moves are steadily improving and he is using his big, strong frame more to his advantage now down low. The Palm Habor University product will be a name to watch in the big men thin state of Florida this season.