Starting Five: Elite bigs visit IU
The regular season didn't end how Indiana hoped it would, but they did have two very important visitors from the class of 2015 on hand in Thon Maker and Thomas Bryant. Michigan hosted a foreign prospect while a pair summer teammates committed to high major programs. Read about that and more in this week's Starting Five.
Indiana hosts elite bigs
The 2014-15 season has been a wild ride of ups and downs for Indiana coaches, players and fans. Over the weekend, the Hoosiers didn't get quite the close to the Big Ten regular season they were looking for as Michigan State came into Bloomington and beat the Hoosiers.
On the bright side, unsigned senior big men Thon Maker -- who was joined by his four-star sophomore brother Matur Maker -- and Thomas Bryant were able to see an entertaining game in front of a pretty raucous crowd. The game also should have demonstrated to both prospects that the Hoosiers are in need of a true rim protector and big man who can score.
The lower ranked of the two at No. 37 in the class of 2015, Bryant is probably the more true center of he and Maker. Every bit of 6-foot-10 and 230 pounds, the Huntington (W.V.) Prep star who hails from New York is a rim protector who can eat space in the lane thanks to his size and broad shoulders. Bryant runs the floor and can also step out to make a mid-range jumper. Bryant already visited Indiana officially in the fall and has also taken official visits to Syracuse and Missouri as well as some trips to Kentucky.
Syracuse is closest to home and had been an assumed leader for quite some time, but word of late had been that the Orange were possibly fading and with last week's scholarship hits delivered by the NCAA, it is going to be tough for them to finish off the recruitment. Lately, the buzz has shifted to Indiana perhaps moving slightly out in front and Bryant being there for a second visit and wearing Indiana gear behind the bench didn't exactly do anything to slow those rumors down.
Moving onto Maker, most people know by now that the seven-footer at Orangeville Prep in Canada recently re-classified from 2016 to the class of 2015, where he is ranked No. 5 overall. Though he can protect the rim, Maker likes to face up a bit more and is a better ball-handler and transition-finisher than Bryant. Since his decision to move to 2015, the Hoosiers, along with Kansas and Kentucky, have emerged as the three programs getting the most behind-the-scenes mentions.
Neither Maker nor Bryant has set any kind of decision date -- and the possibility of going overseas to play professionally continues to loom for Maker -- but even with the loss, there are plenty of positives for Indiana fans to take out of the two being on campus.
German visitor in Ann Arbor
Over the weekend, Michigan created a bit of a buzz by hosting an official visitor who came a long way. Six-foot-9 power forward Moritz Wagner, a German who plays for the club team Alba Berlin, came in for an official visit.
Wagner is a player that came to Michigan's attention last summer thanks to his play overseas and John Beilein made a trip to Germany in the fall to meet with him and his family.
So, exactly what type of player is Wagner? Rivals.com spoke with an NBA scout over the weekend and the scout said Moritz isn't likely as tall as the 6-foot-10 he's being listed at, but he is plenty big to play as a college four man. The scout said Wagner has good touch, is clever with the ball and that he competes on both ends of the floor.
"He's not a guy that is on our radar as somebody who is going to be a pro right away," said the scout. "He's somebody that we see going to college and then we'll see from there. I'd look at him as a top-20 to top-40 type recruit if he were in the States."
Along with Michigan, Virginia, UNLV and Auburn have been linked to Wagner's recruitment. He is finishing up his season with Alba Berlin and is not expected to decide in the immediate future.
Do you believe in Magic
The Arizona Magic program had themselves a good weekend as two of their unsigned three-star senior guards made commitments to high major programs. Shooting guard Sammy Barnes-Thompkins got things started with a Saturday afternoon commitment to St. John's while shooting guard Lyrik Shreiner followed it up by committing to TCU late Saturday night.
Athletic and tough, Barnes-Thompkins is a product of Phoenix who can score in bunches. The 6-foot-2 scorer has very good burst off of the dribble, good range on his jumper and he plays with tremendous confidence. Though he isn't the biggest two guard around, Barnes-Thompkins has proven against national competition with the Magic that he can put up points in a hurry and that he can put them on high-level players. He can finish through contact and has good instincts, but will need to clean up his overall handling a little bit. Barnes-Thompkins visited St. John's a little over a week ago when they hosted their senior night at Madison Square Garden.
Shreiner is another athletic off guard and a product of Glendale (Ariz.) Hillcrest Academy. Originally a member of the class of 2014, Shreiner has a quick first step and elevates well on pull-up jumpers. He can slash to the rim and lead the break, has the quickness and length to develop into an excellent defensive player and has the tools to develop into a player who could help out as a secondary ball-handler against pressure. Shreiner made his official visit to TCU over the weekend and made his verbal commitment before heading home.
Stock rises for JUCO guard
We've reached that time of year where junior college prospects start getting more and more attention. One of the hottest names out there at the moment is Vincennes (Ind.) University shooting guard Mychal Mulder.
A 6-foot-4 three-star prospect from Canada, Mulder has really picked up steam of late. Mulder can play above the rim and is a streaky scorer from deep. He has a good first step and plays in attack mode, but does need to get a little bit stronger if he's going to make the transition to the high-major level.
Creighton, Missouri and Wichita State have reportedly offered scholarhsips. Louisville's Rick Pitino was in to see him just over a week ago and Mulder has also been recently evaluated by Indiana, Georgia Tech and Mississippi State.
State tourney thoughts
Let's go ahead and start off with the nation's No. 2 player in the class of 2015, 6-foot-7 small forward Jaylen BrownClick It's still State Tournament time around the country and Rivals.com spent plenty of time watching action from all around the country. This week, we take a look at some notable performances from title games in Georgia and Washington.Here to view this Link.. Playing for Marietta (Ga.) Wheeler against Mableton (Ga.) Pebblebrook in the Georgia Class AAAAAA state title game, Brown saved his best for last as he delivered from the free throw line to give Wheeler a 59-58 win. Through three quarters, it wasn't exactly vintage Brown. He struggled to get clean looks and an intense but ragged game limited his transition opportunities. However, in the fourth quarter, the unsigned five-star prospect scored 10 of his game-high 22 points and he sank all 12 of his free throws through the course of the game while also grabbing nine rebounds. Brown's biggest moment came when he drove the lane down one with time running out. He got fouled on a wild shot, stepped up to the line and calmly sank his final two free throws with just .5 seconds remaining on the clock.
For Pebblebrook, Georgia-bound big man Derek Ogbeide continued to look like one of the biggest steals in the class of 2015. The 6-foot-9 center is a bruising interior player with athleticism who embraces physicality and plays with fire. Against Wheeler, Ogbeide was totally dominant on the interior as he scored 14 points and grabbed 22 rebounds to go along with three blocks. Currently an unranked three-star prospect, Ogbeide is a stone cold lock to cost somebody their spot in the final 2015 Rivals150.
At the Tacoma Dome, the Washington 3A title game was arguably one of the most anticipated in state history as traditional Seattle powers Rainer Beach and Garfield High locked up for the title. In an interesting twist, the game was a matchup of two defending state champions with Beach having won the last three in 3A while Garfield won a 4A title in 2014. For three quarters, the game lived up to the hype, but in the fourth quarter, Garfield seized control and never looked back in a 64-51 win.
Jaylen Nowell, the No. 24 player in the class of 2017, led the way with 23 points and 10 rebounds. A physical driver, Nowell kept getting to the rim and to the free throw line and lived up to his lofty ranking. Also huge for Garfield was the play of three-star junior power forward Alphonso Anderson. The rugged 6-foot-6 four man was huge in the second half and finished with 17 points and 14 rebounds.
After a strong start, Washington signee Dejounte Murray was very quiet in the second half for Rainier Beach. The 6-foot-5 shooting guard had been all over the glass and scoring off the dribble early, but his teammates didn't get him overly involved in the second half and he didn't exactly demand the ball. A long and wiry athlete, Murray is among the best rebounding guards in the class of 2015 and the No. 53 player did finish with 15 points and 13 rebounds before fouling out.
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