Recruiting is a never-ending process, with the carousel never seeming to stop because of the need for talent that can help programs either remain on top or build towards reaching that point. Kentucky’s one school where annual recruiting classes have taken on even greater importance, as John Calipari’s ability to land the nation’s best prospects means that the majority of those players may spend no more than a year in Lexington before becoming millionaires.
With six McDonald’s All-Americans on this season’s team, which sits atop the Associated Press’ preseason poll, the 2014 recruiting class is an important one due to the possibility (some would use the word “likelihood”) of multiple players being lottery picks next June. Thursday afternoon the Wildcats received their third verbal commitment in the 2014 class, with Moss Point, Miss. shooting guard Devin Booker picking the Wildcats over programs such as Missouri, Michigan and Michigan State.
Booker, an elite perimeter shooter who’s a consensus Top 50 prospect, is the son of former Missouri great Melvin Booker. This past weekend the Tigers honored the 1993-94 team that won the Big 8, with the elder Booker winning Big 8 Player of the Year honors that season. The hope amongst the Missouri faithful was that the weekend would help sway the younger Booker, who was on an unofficial visit for obvious reasons, but it wasn’t meant to be.
Booker joins point guard Tyler Ulis and versatile center Karl Towns in Kentucky’s 2014 class, and there’s a chance the number could grow to four by the end of the evening with wing James Blackmon Jr. announcing his decision tonight. Blackmon, who was originally an Indiana commit, de-committed from Indiana in August. Both the Hoosiers and Wildcats are in the running for his services.
With talented players such as forward Julius Randle and guards Aaron and Andrew Harrison and James Young on the current roster, Kentucky’s lineup in 2014 could look far different than it will this season. But the program is used to such change, and with that being the case the 2014 crop will have the opportunity to compete for immediate playing time.
Earlier this summer, we told you the story of Collin Sexton, how the 6-foot-2 Georgia native went from being a mid-major recruit to a five-star prospect being courted by the likes of Kansas, Arizona, North Carolina and Villanova.
He averaged 31 points in the Nike EYBL circuit, nine points better than Michael Porter, who finished second in the league in scoring. No one puts points on the board like he does, so it’s only fitting that he was the guy that made a shot from the balcony during ‘The Trip’, Nike’s effort to keep kids associated with their brand from Elite 24:
UCLA capped their three-game trip to Australia on Sunday night with a 94-91 win over the Brisbane Bullets, a game in which sophomore point guard Aaron Holiday finished with a team-high 17 points. Bryce Alford and Isaac Hamilton both added 16 points and freshman Ike Anigbogu finished with 13 points and 10 boards.
This win came just two days after the Bruins lost to Melbourne United, 89-84, when Hamilton — 18 points and five assists — and Holiday — 16 points — were both once again impressive. Alford also added 18 points in Friday’s loss.
It’s not surprising that the Bruins had some up and down performances abroad. Everyone does. It’s what happens when a team of college kids, with three freshmen playing key roles, heads to the other side of the world to square off against teams made up of professionals. Don’t go hanging the ‘Fire Steve Alford’ banners on anymore airplanes just yet.
There are, however, two interesting things to consider from this trip:
– Lonzo Ball, UCLA’s star freshman, was, at best, their fourth-best perimeter player. Seniors Isaac Hamilton and Bryce Alford and sophomore Aaron Holiday all played well and posted impressive numbers on the three-game trip. Ball? He didn’t shoot well. At all. In UCLA’s 47-point opening win, he was 3-for-9 from the floor and 1-for-3 from three, putting together was was by far his best shooting performance of the trip. In the three games, he shot a total of 25 percent (9-36) from the field and 19 percent (4-21) from three. He did average 5.0 assists and, in one game, notched 13 boards, but Ball’s ability to shoot will be something to keep an eye on.
– And then there’s this, from Bryce Alford:
UCLA needs to travel with more towels.
VIDEO: Mixtape for ton ten prospect Hamidou Diallo
Hamidou Diallo is arguably the most in-demand scoring guard in the country.
He currently holds offers from Duke, Kentucky, Indiana and Louisville, among many others, and in the mixtape above, you can see why. He’s has explosive as any guard that has come through college basketball since Zach LaVine, which is why his mixtapes are so enjoyable to watch.
Plus, the beat that Ball Is Life uses here is sick.
Former Michigan State star arrested for third time in four months
According to police, Appling was the driver of a car that was pulled over on Sunday night in Detroit. After an officer detected the scent of marijuana and requested Appling’s license, Appling rolled up his window sped off. He was stopped a short time later, but officers noticed that a Gucci bag that was in the back seat his car was missing. As they went over the route of the pursuit, they found the bag, which contained a loaded handgun and paperwork with Appling’s name on it.
In June, Appling was arrested when, during a traffic stop, he was in the back seat of a car where a handgun was found in the floorboard. That happened a month after he was arrested in the parking lot of a Dearborn, Michigan, strip club when a handgun and a loaded AK-47 were found in his car.
Tennessee football to honor Pat Summitt with helmet sticker
Tennessee’s football team will be wearing a commemorative sticker on their helmet this season to honor the late Pat Summitt.
Summitt coached the Lady Vols for nearly four decades, building the women’s basketball program into a goliath in the sport and simultaneously doing more than just about anyone to advance women’s athletics in this country while becoming the winningest Division I college coach of all-time.
“We’re excited about wearing a commemorative sticker on the back of our helmet to honor the late Pat Summitt,” football coach Butch Jones said. “We know everything she stands for. I think it’s very fitting that Tennessee football and Team 120 recognize her and everything she means to the University of Tennessee and state of Tennessee.”