Julius Randle says N.C. State was his best visit so far

Leave a comment

Julius Randle completed his third of five official visits this past weekend.

The Prestonwood Christian (Tex.) power forward is the top available senior not named Andrew Wiggins, and was at North Carolina State last weekend for the Wolfpack’s win against in-state rival North Carolina. The prized recruit, who has previously visited Florida and Kentucky enjoyed his time in Raleigh, according to Eric Bossi of Rivals.com

“I got there late Thursday night and overall I think it was my best visit yet so far as official visits go,” Randle told Bossi on Sunday. “I got to hang out with Rodney (Purvis) a lot and he’s one of my best friends. So that was good.”

Mark Gottfried has already signed two big men for next year’s class, BeeJay Anya (DeMatha Catholic/Germantown, Md.) and Kyle Washington (Brewster Academy/Champlin, Minn.), however Randle likes how the Wolfpack’s style suits his game.

“A lot of schools tell you about how their system fits you or how they will change it to fit you once you get there,” said Randle. “But, their system already fits me without having to change anything and they showed me that on film while I was there.”

The 6-foot-9 Randle has been out of action since November with a foot injury, one of two devastating injuries Prestonwood has dealt with this season — Mickey Mitchell, one of the nation’s top sophomores has been out with an ACL tear.

Randle told Rivals he hopes to be ready for postseason showcases such as the McDonald’s All-American game, and Jordan Brand Classic.

In the meantime, Randle will take his final two visits in the month of February to Texas and Kansas.

Terrence is also the lead writer at NEHoopNews.com and can be followed on Twitter: @terrence_payne

Skal Labissiere has not been cleared by the NCAA

Kelly Kline/Under Armour
Kelly Kline/Under Armor
Leave a comment

While the timeline surrounding Cheick Diallo’s eligibility has made headlines for months now, another elite recruit at a blue blood program is still awaiting word on whether or not he will be allowed to play college basketball this season.

Kentucky center Skal Labissiere, the No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2015 and a potential No. 1 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, has not yet been cleared to play this season. His guard, Gerald Hamilton, confirmed as much to ESPN earlier today.

“Not yet,” Hamilton said. “We’re just trying to get everything squared away. They are asking a few questions.

“They haven’t cleared him, but we’re sticking with our faith. There’s no real concern about anything from the Kentucky compliance people.”

Labissiere has more red flags than you can count, almost all of them pertaining to Hamilton. It was the worst kept secret in high school basketball that Hamilton more or less had Labissiere for sale. It’s why he played three different AAU programs and two different high schools in four years. Hamilton runs a non-profit called Reach Your Dream and, after a transfer rendered him ineligible for his senior high school season, Labissiere played for a team called ‘Reach Your Dream Prep’, which Hamilton founded simply to ensure Labissiere had a place to play.

Here’s how CBSSports.com summarized things back in November:

Multiple coaches who have recruited Labissiere told CBSSports.com Hamilton either directly indicated or strongly suggested pursuing Labissiere would mostly be a waste of time if they couldn’t offer assistance in helping fund his foundation. One coach from a prominent staff said: “We couldn’t even get in the door.” Another added: “We recognized what it was about early on and decided not to get involved.”

In other words, no one is surprised that the NCAA is looking into Labissiere’s situation, and it’s not hard to look at Kentucky bringing in Isaac Humphries and Tai Wynyard as a sign that they’re not completely certain that Labissiere will make it through this. The surprise is in how quiet that investigation has been over the course of the last few months.

The shame in all of this is that Labissiere is a sweet kid with an incredible back-story. He survived the devastating earthquake in Haiti despite having a house collapse on him. If he can get through this investigation, he’ll easily be one of the biggest and most likeable stars in the sport this season.

Xavier commit to enroll early, redshirt

Getty Images
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Xavier landed a commitment on Wednesday from four-star big man Eddie Ekiyor, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com.

Ekiyor, who picked the Musketeers over Miami and Florida, is a borderline top 100 recruit. He’s an athletic, 6-foot-8 post that shouldn’t have an issue adjusting to the pace and physicality of the game, although he needs to continue to develop offensively to be more than a catch-and-dunk big man down the road.

In other words, on paper, Ekiyor isn’t much different from the majority of high major big men. But what’s different about this situation is that Ekiyor will be enrolling at Xavier for the start of the spring semester, technically making him a member of the Class of 2015. Xavier won’t be rushing him through the process — he’ll redshirt the second half of the 2015-16 season — but getting him on campus early will allow him an extra six months of learning the Xavier system, developing in collegiate practices and working out with the Xavier strength coaches.

That should help him limit the adjustment phase as he transitions from high school. That’s important for the Musketeers, because there’s a chance that they could lose their starting front line — James Farr (graduation) and Jalen Reynolds (early entry) — after this season.