This just in: every move John Calipari makes pays recruiting dividends.
Hanging with Charlie Sheen? Money.
Posing with arch-nemesis Rick Pitino? Also gold.
Being chosen to drive the Kentucky Speedway pace car? Got his name in the papers.
Not getting to drive the pace car after all? Ditto.
Losing in his hometown in the first round of the NIT? OK, maybe I’m stretching the premise here.
But you have to admit, choosing to coach the Dominican National Team – a lesser light in international basketball circles – has paid off in a big way for Calipari. And it may be the gift that keeps on giving, according to Ben Roberts of the Lexington Herald-Leader.
John Calipari and Orlando Antigua coached [Karl] Towns for two summers with the Dominican national team. That relationship helped them land the 7-footer, who remains UK’s only commitment in the class of 2014.
Now another 2014 prospect with Dominican ties is emerging as an elite player in the class, and Kentucky’s coaching staff is in a prime position.
Angel Delgado — a Dominican native — came to the United States last year and has been steadily climbing the recruiting rankings.
Delgado is 6’9″ and reported to be a great rebounder with a motor that doesn’t quit. That may not be enough to jump him over the likes of Cliff Alexander and Trey Lyles on Coach Cal’s big board, but it wouldn’t exactly hurt the program to nab an athletic project who might stick around and be a glue guy for more than two semesters. Then again, Zagsblog.com says Delgado is coming on like gangbusters, so let’s not underestimate him.
One thing seems sure, Coach Cal has the first shot at Delgado if he wants him. All because he – and now his assistant Orlando Antigua – have put in some time coaching basketball for a small Caribbean nation.
All I can say to that is: Get on his level. The guy is in another time zone in terms of recruiting.
Eric Angevine is the editor of Storming the Floor. He tweets @stfhoops.
Auburn’s hire of Bruce Pearl was almost universally lauded as the first step towards the return of relevance for the Tiger basketball program.
And while the results have yet to shine through on the floor, Pearl is unequivocally stockpiling the kind of talent that will allow him to push for trips to the NCAA tournament and maybe one day contend for a league crown with Kentucky.
The latest step came on Sunday, when Pearl landed a commitment from Chuma Okeke, a top 50 wing prospect out of Georgia.
“He is a versatile wing who can handle and score,” said NBCSports.com recruiting analyst Scott Phillips. “Coming off of a big July, Okeke could move up the national rankings and Auburn pounced on him right away.”
Okeke joins big man Austin Wiley, a top ten player in the class, and Davion Mitchell, who is likely one of the five best point guards in the country, in what is currently the nation’s best recruiting class in 2017. That’s before you consider that Pearl already has Mustapha Heron, a top 25 prospect, joining the mix this season.
“This group has the makings of a monster recruiting class for Auburn,” Phillips said.
Okeke picked the Tigers over Florida State, Georgia and a number of other programs across the southeast.
Jay Huff is a member of Tony Bennett’s best recruiting class to date, a 6-foot-11 top 50 recruit from North Carolina.
He also happens to be pretty athletic.
Don’t believe me?
Check out this video that McDonald’s All-American Kyle Guy tweeted out on Sunday night:
Yup, that’s Huff taking off from the foul line to dunk.
Not bad, young fella.
After a successful career that included stops at Western Kentucky, UMass and Seton Hall, Derrick Gordon, Division I college basketball’s first openly gay player, will not pursue professional opportunities and will instead become a firefighter.
The 6-foot-3 Gordon averaged 8.0 points and 3.3 rebounds per game as a senior for the Pirates, helping the team reach the NCAA tournament during his graduate transfer year. By making the NCAA tournament with Seton Hall this past season, Gordon became the first college basketball player to reach the event with three different teams.
A tenacious perimeter defender who could have earned a pro contract if he stuck with basketball, Gordon will instead pursue a career as a firefighter in San Francisco.
“I’ve had an amazing basketball career and want to thank everybody who has always been there supporting me every step on the way,” Gordon said via his Instagram. “But I’m making a change in my career…I will now be working towards becoming a San Francisco Firefighter!! I’m excited about this and looking forward to having a long career!!”
While Gordon likely would have never made the NBA on talent alone, his defensive prowess would have likely given him a shot overseas or in the D League. It’s hard to say why Gordon is making this decision, but given what we saw with all of the attention surrounding Michael Sam when he tried to play in the NFL, Gordon was probably going to face a lot of scrutiny wherever he decided to play.
Hopefully Gordon finds his calling as a firefighter and brings the same energy and leadership that he brought on the floor to helping other people outside of basketball.
Washington incoming freshman guard Markelle Fultz is going to be one of the premier players in the country next season as his unique game is going to be fascinating to watch.
The 6-foot-5 Fultz is currently playing with the USA U18 team in Chile for the FIBA U18 Americas as he’s second on the team in scoring and first in assists as the Americans play Canada for the title on Saturday.
Against the host country, Fultz had an electric spin move in the paint and finished with an easy dunk. If you’re not willing to stay up late to watch this dude play this year, then set your DVRs, because Fultz is going to have some fun moments during the season.
(H/t: Jonathan Wasserman, Bleacher Report)
The Las Vegas AAU events are all going on this week and it’s the final event for rising seniors.
At the Las Vegas Fab 48, forward Chris Seeley of the Splash City 17U team put down one of the best poster dunks of the summer as he skied over a defender for an emphatic finish.
The Class of 2016 forward attends Central High School in Fresno, California as he’s receiving plenty of buzz for his recent play.