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Isaiah Whitehead, No. 14 in Class of 2014, commits to Seton Hall

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After a wild recruitment that saw some fireworks down the stretch, the latest in a long line of Brooklyn-bred, Lincoln HS stars finally announced where he would be attending school on Thursday afternoon.

“I’d like to announce that I’ll be taking my talents to Seton Hall University,” Isaiah Whitehead, the No. 14 recruit in Rivals 2014 top 150 announced from a press conference at his high school. Lincoln has also produced the likes of Stephon Marbury, Sebastian Telfair and Lance Stephenson.

Whitehead is a 6-foot-3 shooting guard and one of the most potent scorers in the Class of 2014. He’s got sone size and strength to him, and when he gets hot, he can knock down four or five jumpers in a row. He has a tendency to be a bit of a gunner, however, and is known to take some bad shots from time to time. One recruiting analyst called him “the best bad shot maker in the country”.

Whitehead joins a loaded recruiting class for Seton Hall, one that already includes top 100 recruits Angel Delgado Khadeen Carrington and Ismael Sanogo.

Whitehead’s recruitment was a roller coaster. He shocked a lot of people in the recruiting world when he announced this week that he would be making his decision on Thursday, a day after taking a visit to St. John’s. Popular sentiment had Whitehead going to St. John’s, but some movement behind the scenes on Wednesday night and Thursday morning changed things.

One factor that may have played a role in Whitehead’s decision? Dwayne “Tiny” Morton, the Lincoln HS coach and the founder of Whitehead’s AAU program, the Juice All-Stars, will reportedly become a member of Kevin Willard’s staff at Seton Hall. Morton had very publicly made a push to fill Mike Dunlap’s position at St. john’s after Dunlap went to the NBA last summer.

Hiring Morton as an assistant is a completely legal move by Willard, even if it does come across as a bit unsanitary. A few years back, the NCAA implemented a rule that eliminated package deals and job for third-parties connected to a recruit unless the job that was being filled was one of the three assistant coach positions on that staff. Morton would be an assistant coach for the Pirates.

To land a five-star recruit as talented as Whitehead at a place like Seton Hall, that’s a risk that’s worth taking for Willard. His program is in a bad spot right now. They went 3-15 in the Big East. Their second-leading scorer transferred out and their top two players are seniors this season. Willard had a good recruiting class already, but he had to get Whitehead.

And he did.

Whitehead was the first top 25 recruit from New York City since Stephenson and Durand Scott made their way out of Lincoln and Rice, respectively, in the Class of 2009. There doesn’t appear to be much in the way of high-level talent in the city in the Class of 2015 or 2016. Outside of Whitehead, New York has more-or-less become a dead zone for elite high school talent. Some of the players end up heading to prep schools outside the city. Other players buy into their hype too early, while some of the city’s best players are written off thanks to local kids that have been overhyped in the past.

But for one day, the insanity of an old school, no-holds-barred New York recruiting battle was on full display.

And it just felt right that the two schools left swinging at the end were St. John’s and Seton Hall.

As good as they’ve been, No. 3 Michigan State has yet to play their best

Bryn Forbes, Ryan Fazekas
Associated Press
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Sunday night’s Wooden Legacy title game matchup between No. 3 Michigan State and Providence was billed as a matchup of the nation’s two best players, and rightfully so. Michigan State senior Denzel Valentine (17 points, six rebounds, five assists), who already has two triple-doubles to his credit this season, and Providence redshirt junior Kris Dunn (21 points, five rebounds, seven assists) have more than lived up to the preseason expectations and more of the same was expected in Anaheim.

And while both had their moments, it was Michigan State’s supporting cast that made the difference in their 77-64 victory. The scary thing for future opponents on Michigan State’s schedule is that Tom Izzo’s team is nowhere near being a finished product.

With Valentine dealing with first-half foul trouble Bryn Forbes stepped up, scoring 13 of his 18 points to help the Spartans take a two-point lead into the half. As for the 11-0 run that Michigan State produced to take control of the game late, a host of players stepped forward in regards to scoring, rebounding and defending.

Freshmen Deyonta Davis and Matt McQuaid combined to score nine points over the final 5:32, with transfer guard Eron Harris adding six of his 12 points during that stretch. The Spartans outscored the Friars, who aren’t as deep, 22-7 during that stretch to close out the game, hunting for quality shots and hitting the offensive glass while making things difficult for Providence on the other end of the floor.

The end result was a final margin that does not indicate just how close the game was. While Providence seemed to run out of steam Michigan State received contributions from multiple players, which is undoubtedly a good sign for this group moving forward.

The Spartans will return the currently injured Gavin Schilling later this season, giving them another big man alongside Davis, Matt Costello and Colby Wollenman. He was a player they missed Sunday night, as he can defend opposing big men both in the post and on the perimeter. His absence was a main reason Michigan State didn’t have an answer for Providence’s Ben Bentil (20 points, seven rebounds) defensively.

The key for this group is going to end up being role definition, which is especially true in the case of Harris. A transfer from West Virginia, Harris came to East Lansing with the reputation of being a big time scorer. He’s struggled through the first two weeks of the season, but he got on a roll on Sunday night, finishing with 12 points, three boards and three assists. He showed he’s capable of doing a variety of things on the perimeter, and fitting into a “Swiss army knife” kind of role would make Michigan State that much more dangerous.

There’s no denying that Michigan State has been one of the nation’s best teams thus far.

But there’s also no denying that the Spartans have yet to hit their ceiling, which is definitely a positive moving forward.

Wichita State’s Anton Grady returns home with team

AP Photo/Willie J. Allen Jr.
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Wichita State forward Anton Grady was released from a hospital in Orlando on Sunday afternoon in time to return home with his Shocker teammates.

Grady suffered a spinal corn concussion on Friday when he collided head-first with an Alabama defender, snapping his head sharply to the side. He lay on the court motionless for 10 minutes after the injury and was taken off the floor on a stretcher.

[RELATED: Can WSU still make tourney?]

“I want to send out a big thank you to Shocker Nation and all of my friends and family for of the love and encouragement that I have received the past few days,” Grady said in a statement on Sunday morning. “I’ve been reading your tweets and posts and appreciate every last one of them. I have a lot of work to do to get back on the court, but with the help of such a great support system, I’m ready for the challenge.”

By Friday night, Grady had feeling in all of his extremities, but he has a long road of rehab ahead of him.