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Which recruits were summer’s highest ranking risers?

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The problems and sometimes tainted portions of the college basketball recruiting system are well-publicized, but the flip side is that deserving players from areas lacking exposure also result in much-deserved scholarships being issued and later accepted. Every summer seems to feature a few prospects that vault up the charts and the 2013 summer was no different.

Five incoming high school senior recruits that gained in statue based on their performances in evaluation events include the following:

Karviar Shepherd, 6-9, C, Grace Prep (Texas)
It was a case of out of sight, out of mind for Shepherd (pictured), as he sat out his junior season of high school following a transfer to Grace Prep. There weren’t any signs of rust in Shepherd’s playing during the spring and summer, as he showed himself to be a highly-skilled, true post player worthy of recruitment at the high-major level. A double bonus for college coaches is that his teammate at Grace Prep, power forward Jordan Mickey, is also a high-major prospect. There are only a handful of centers in the 2013 class who can step in and play heavy minutes as freshmen, and Shepherd appears to be one.

Bobby Portis, 6-9, PF, Little Rock Hall (Ark.)
When the Arkansas Razorbacks snagged a commitment from Portis last year there wasn’t much known on the national scale about how good Portis actually was. The slender and athletic big man was highly impressive on the recruiting trail for his Arkansas Wings travelling team, and went from being unknown to a legitimate McDonald’s All-American game candidate.

Kuran Iverson, 6-9, SF, Fishburne Military (Va.)
It was a redemption story for Iverson, a defensive  mismatch for most small forwards. He was considered among the elite prospects in the class several years ago, but fell deep into player rankings. With past inconsistency behind him, and after a prolific summer in which he showed Lamar Odom-like skills, Iverson is back in most top-25 charts, and is back to being among the most difficult players to stop.

Zak Irvin, 6-6, SG, Hamilton Southeastern (Ind.)
A Michigan pledge, at the beginning of the summer, Irvin was thought of as just one of three early commits to the Wolverines as part of what looked like a burgeoning excellent recruiting class. Irvin had other plans, though, and turned it up a notch showing his lanky frame to be extremely skilled on the offensive end, as a deadly scoring threat from the perimeter. In late July, Irvin has worked himself into being a consensus top-50 player nationally.

Roddy Peters, 6-3, PG, Suitland (Md.)
While it’s true that the DC Assault grassroots program consistently pumps out players to every level of college basketball, Peters was flying under the radar at the beginning of the spring, as he was perhaps charitably described as an inconsistent shooting guard with potential. Just months later, former NBA coach Eddie Jordan and DC Assault was buoyed by Peters during live events in April and July, as he developed outstanding point guard skills in a short period of time and is now a top-20 point guard nationally in the class.

Kellon Hassenstab runs Follow him on Twitter @hoopniks.

Illinois’ injury woes continue as starting center needs knee surgery

George Niang,Abdel Nader,Mike Thorne, Jr.
AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser
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Illinois suffered another blow in what has already turned out to be a brutal season.

Mike Thorne is expected to miss the rest of the season after tearing his meniscus. He reportedly underwent surgery on Monday to repair the injury.

Thorne, a transfer from Charlotte, was starting at center for the Illini and doing a good job of it as well. He was averaging 13.4 points and 8.4 boards, although Illinois has started off the season 3-4.

The reason for that slow start has mainly been those injuries. Tracy Abrams is already out for the season after tearing his achilles, and the Illini training room looked like a M.A.S.H. unit. Kendrick Nunn just returned two games ago from surgery to repair a torn thumb ligament. LeRon Black is still getting back to speed after offseason knee surgery. Jaylon Tate is back after dislocating a finger. Jalen Coleman-Lands was slowed by a stress fracture.

John Groce entered this season on the hot seat, and dealing with all of these injuries certainly isn’t helping his cause.

NEW PODCAST: Recapping Feast Week

Kris Dunn
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
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We talk about a lot of stuff of the podcast today, mainly because a lot of stuff happened since we last spoke with you all.

For starters, we need to discuss the ‘realness’ of Syracuse and Xavier. Are they both truly top 15 teams, or do they just have top 15 resumes? We also dive into Chris Mack’s epic troll-job of Dayton at the Advocare Invitational final.

Other topics we touched on: Whether or not Scott is ever going to apologize to Wayne Selden, Wichita State’s tournament hopes, Texas A&M and whether we’d take Ben Simmons, Kris Dunn or Denzel Valentine today.

As always, you can subscribe to the podcast in iTunes right here. It’s the quickest way to get access on your cell phone or tablet.