Kentucky, Kansas offer 2015 recruit Derrick Jones

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PHILADELPHIA — The members of the Class of 2016 put on a show after the tryouts for the USA’s U16 national team last month.

Remember this video?

I do. It’s a friendly reminder that kids half my age are already infinitely better basketball players than I could ever dream of being.

One name that didn’t show up in that video is Derrick Jones, an athletic 6-foot-6 lefty from Archbishop Carroll (PA). That’s because the No. 11 recruit in the Class of 2015, according to Rivals, didn’t make the U16 team. He was one of the final four players cut, but that hasn’t deterred some of the biggest programs in the country from offering Jones a scholarship.

In addition to the dozen or so offers that Jones has already, two of the nation’s blue bloods have taken interest. Kentucky and Kansas have both offered Jones, with Syracuse, Maryland, Kansas State, St. Joseph’s and Villanova being the other five schools that he rattled off at Reebok’s Breakout Classic in Philly.

“Those are the schools that have been texting my phone,” Jones told NBCSports.com.

Jones’ athleticism is what sets him apart right now. He’s got the kind of physical gifts that don’t come along too often, and perhaps his most valuable skill is that he plays hard; he defends, he attacks the glass, he goes to the rim instead of settling for jumpshots.

As important as that is, for Jones to take the next step, he needs to become more of a basketball player than simply being an athletic freak.

“I want to improve on my ball-handling and my jump shot,” Jones said. “I want to put on like 15 pounds.”

The good news for Jones?

He’s going to be a junior in high school in the fall. He’s got plenty of time to improve the rest of his game.

Put in the work in the gym, and he’ll go a long way.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Texas lands commitment from top 100 center

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James Banks announced on Thursday that he has committed to Texas, joining Jacob Young in Shaka Smart’s first recruiting class as the head coach of the Longhorns.

Banks is an interesting prospect. A 6-foot-10 center from Georgia, Banks is a still-developing prospect that was recruited more on his potential than his immediate ability.

“James Banks emerged as a good low post prospect this spring and summer,” NBC Recruiting Analyst Scott Phillips said. “With a good set of hands, some offensive potential and a frame that can add weight, Banks is a nice upside grab for Texas.”

He’s probably a few years away from having a major impact in the Big 12, but he may not have that much time to develop. Cameron Ridley, Prince Ibeh and Conner Lamert all graduate after this season, meaning that Banks is going to have to contribute immediately when he sets foot on the Austin campus for the 2016-17 season.

Texas has three commitments in the Class of 2015. Smart convinced Kerwin Roach and Eric Davis to remain committed to the program when he took over for Rick Barnes while he landed a commitment from Tevin Mack, who pledged to Smart when he was at VCU.

Memphis guard could miss season with shoulder injury

Kedren Johnson
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Memphis just cannot catch a break.


It’s to the point where I almost feel bad for Josh Pastner.

Today, CBSSports.com reported that Kedren Johnson, a 6-foot-4 point guard that was on track towards being an all-SEC point guard at Vanderbilt, could end up missing the season due to a shoulder injury. If he can handle the pain he can avoid surgery and play with the injury, but at the very least, Johnson is going to be less than his best.

Johnson averaged 6.7 points and 2.7 assists last season for the Tigers. He sat out 2013-14 after leaving Vanderbilt and entered last season incredibly out of shape. There was hope that he would be able to make a bigger impact this season and help fill the void at the point guard spot.

This news comes on the heels of Memphis finding out that Jaylen Fisher is heading to UNLV. Who’s Jaylen Fisher? Well, he’s a point guard and top 40 recruit from Memphis that was Pastner’s No. 1 recruiting target that opted to leave the city for his college hoops instead of play for the Tigers.

That’s a bad sign, but not quite as bad as Memphis losing star center Austin Nichols — another local kid — to a transfer over the summer. Nichols transferred to Virginia.