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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 Hoopniks.com. Follow him on Twitter @hoopniks.

No. 5 Xavier stumbles at Creighton, lose 70-54

Creighton's Cole Huff (13) and Toby Hegner, left, guard Xavier's Jalen Reynolds (1) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Omaha, Neb., Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
(AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
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Mo Watson went for a career-high 32 points, seven boards and five assists as Creighton jumped out to an early 21-4 lead and never looked back, beating No. 5 Xavier, 70-54, in Omaha on Tuesday night.

 

It was a massive win for the Bluejays, who still have an outside shot at earning an at-large bid this season. (We wrote all about that here.)

As well as Creighton played, the bigger story here may actually be Xavier, who lost for just the third time this season; they had been the only top ten team with just two losses to their name.

The issue for the Musketeers tonight was two-fold, but they both are a symptom of what could be an issue down the road for this team: Xavier doesn’t really have a true point guard.

They certainly didn’t have anyone to stop Watson. By the second half, they had essentially asked Reynolds, who was playing the middle of their 1-3-1 zone to matchup with Watson. It was weird but was actually somewhat effective.

The Musketeers also started out ice cold from the floor, missing 11 of their first 13 shots, and those misses led to leak outs from Bluejays, who got layups and open threes in transition to build that 17 point lead. Once Xavier got behind, it turned into scramble mode for Xavier. They forced shots early in the clock and didn’t start pounding the ball into the paint until it was too late. What they needed was someone to be able to settle things, to ensure that offensive would get initiated and sets would get executed when they were able to get the lead down to single digits.

That 1-for-19 shooting performance from beyond the arc certainly didn’t help matters, and neither did the fact that they got just nine field goals all game from players not named James Farr or Jalen Reynolds. The most frustrating part for head coach Chris Mack? They had good shots. It wasn’t like Creighton took away everything that Xavier wanted to do.

The kids just had one of those nights where nothing went down.

Those happen.

And when you combine them with a total inability to contain the opposing team’s point guard, what you get is a 16 point loss on the road against a team that was desperate to get a good win.

Gill’s 16, ‘D’ lead No. 7 Virginia past Virginia Tech, 67-49

Lehigh Virginia Basketball
AP Photo/Andrew Shurtleff
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) Anthony Gill scored 16 points and No. 7 Virginia turned the tables on state rival Virginia Tech with a 67-49 victory Tuesday night, the Cavaliers’ seventh straight.

Isaiah Wilkins added a career-best 14 points and Malcolm Brogdon had 12 for the Cavaliers (20-4, 9-3 Atlantic Coast Conference). Virginia avenged a 70-68 loss to the Hokies in Blacksburg on Jan. 4 in what rates as their worst performance of the season, and extended their winning streak at John Paul Jones Arena to 17 games.

Freshman Justin Robinson scored 16 points and classmate Chris Clarke had 11 in his first action for the Hokies (13-12, 5-7) since breaking his right foot in late December. Virginia Tech’s top two scorers, Zach LeDay (16.0 ppg) and Seth Allen (14.5), were limited to seven and six points, respectively, in part because of foul trouble.

Virginia coach Tony Bennett said his team wasn’t ready to play when it lost to the Hokies earlier, but they have been surging of late and were focused from the outset. They were credited with assists and 14 of their first 15 baskets and forced 10 turnovers in the first half; they forced just eight in the last meeting of the teams.

For most of the game, the Hokies had more turnovers than field goals.

The Cavaliers led 32-20 at halftime and extended their advantage to 47-29 on a three-point play by Mike Tobey with 12:11 remaining. It capped an 11-4 run for Virginia, during which LeDay was whistled for his fourth foul. On Virginia’s next trip down court, it got the ball to Gill inside and LeDay basically backed off and let him score, quickly earning a spot on the bench.

The Cavaliers’ lead never dipped into single digits again.

The Hokies had just eight turnovers and outscored Virginia 26-6 off turnovers in their first meeting. This time, Virginia Tech had 10 turnovers by halftime and the Cavaliers had already turned them into 15 points. Virginia Tech finished with 16 field goals and 15 turnovers.

Already leading 9-6, Virginia got scoring from eight players in a 23-8 run that spanned about 8 1/2 minutes.

Gill started it with a dunk, Brogdon hit a 3-pointer, London Perrantes had a four-point play and Wilkins finished it with two free throws, giving the Cavaliers a 32-14 lead with 2:06 left in the half. They didn’t score again, and the Hokies closed within 32-20 by halftime.

TIP-INS

Virginia Tech: The Hokies shot 57.1 percent (15 of 26) from the field in the second half of their 70-68 victory against Virginia on Jan. 4. … Virginia Tech’s starting five totaled four points in the first half.

Virginia: The Cavaliers have held four consecutive opponents to 50 points or fewer.

UP NEXT

Virginia Tech plays at No. 12 Miami next Wednesday.

Virginia plays at Duke on Saturday.

Follow Hank on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/hankkurzjr

The AP’s college basketball page: http://www.collegebasketball.ap.org