(Brewster Academy)

Who’s left?: The best available high school basketball recruits

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Although we’ve hit the month of May and the late signing period will come to a close on May 21st, there are still plenty of talented, unsigned high school basketball prospects that are available for the 2014-15 college basketball season. Many of these players were released from a National Letter of Intent after a coaching change but now they have the option of looking elsewhere and finding a new program to play for.

WHO’S LEFT?: College Basketball Transfers | Junior College Transfers

Think that this list is littered with picked-over players? Think again. Six of the eight players on this list are among Rivals.com‘s top 150 in the 2014 national class, so there are still plenty of impact players left to be had.

Here’s a look at some of the best players that are still available:

1. Larry Austin: The 6-foot-1 point guard from Springfield Lanpher High School in Illinois is ranked No. 117 in Rivals.com‘s 2014 national rankings and was released from his NLI from Tennessee earlier in April. Sources told NBCSports.com that Austin will visit Xavier this weekend and Butler, Cal, Creighton, Georgetown, Kansas State and Providence have all shown varying degrees of interest.

2. Phil Cofer: A 6-foot-8 forward and former Tennessee commit, Cofer was recently released from his Letter of Intent but Rivals.com‘s No. 120 player in the 2014 national class might be willing to stay a Volunteer. Cofer met with new Tennessee head coach Donnie Tyndall on Tuesday, according to multiple reports, and the Georgia native has upcoming official visits to Florida State and Virginia Tech the next two weekends and is also getting interest from Georgia Tech and Memphis, according to Rob Lewis of Volsquest.com.

3. Jordan Cornish: A 6-foot-6 shooting guard and another former Tennessee commit — sense a patten here? — Cornish re-opened his recruitment and is looking at Nebraska SMU and Wake Forest. The Louisiana native is scheduled to visit Wake Forest this weekend and will visit Nebraska the following weekend before finishing up at SMU, according to NOLA.com’s Andrew Lopez.

4. Shelton Mitchell: The 6-foot-3 point guard from Oak Hill Academy is the No. 76 overall prospect in Rivals.com’s 2014 national rankings and recently got his release from Wake Forest. Not much is known about Mitchell’s updated recruitment, but Oak Hill Academy head coach Steve Smith said Mitchell will likely stay away from Wake Forest and the ACC.

5. Tariq Owens: The 6-foot-8 former Ohio commit is a very hot commodity as schools from all over are trying to get the Maryland native on campus. Evan Daniels of Scout.com reported on Thursday that Owens has unofficial visits to Temple (May 2) and Seton Hall (May 9) lined up while UT Martin has an official visit scheduled for May 13. Tennessee and Dayton are also still involved with Owens as well. UT Martin may appear to be the little guy in this recruitment, but the Skyhawks recently hired former Ohio assistant coach Anthony Stewart as associate head coach and Stewart helped recruit Owens to Ohio.

6. Ahmaad Rorie: The 6-foot scoring point guard and former Cal commit is the newest member of the Uncommited Club after deciding late this week to re-open his recruitment. Rorie transferred back to Lincoln High School in Washington this winter after spending the first half of the year at Montverde Academy and Lincoln High School coach Aubrey Shelton told Todd Miles of The News Tribune that Rorie would look at Pac 12 schools and set some visits. Keep an eye on Washington in this one. Combo guard and fellow high school senior David Crisp is a Huskies’ commit and Crisp is a cousin of Rorie’s and the two formed the starting backcourt for the Team Bradley grassroots program. Rorie is the No. 116 ranked player in Rivals.com‘s 2014 national rankings.

7. Elijah Stewart: The 6-foot-5 shooting guard from Los Angeles had a big senior season and the former Loyola Marymount commit now stands as Rivals.com‘s No. 64 player in the 2014 national class. According to ESPN.com‘s Joel Francisco, Cincinnati will get a visit this weekend while Boston College, Oklahoma State, Pitt and USC are all involved. Stewart plans on visiting each campus before deciding.

8. Jared Terrell: The 6-foot-3 guard is the No. 66 overall prospect in Rivals.com’s 2014 national rankings and recently received his release from Oklahoma State. Terrell has yet to put out any sort of list, but Boston College, Providence and Rhode Island are getting a lot of local buzz thanks in-part to Brewster Academy head coach Jason Smith naming those three schools with Terrell. Rhode Island was the runner-up last time, but they’ve since taken a commitment from guard Jarvis Garrett and assistant coach Preston Murphy — Terrell’s lead recruiter — has been hired at Boston College in the same position. Providence was also involved for Terrell in the fall but now more playing time looks available after another shoulder injury to Kris Dunn and the loss of Brandon Austin.

Cyclones add big man for 2017

LOUISVILLE, KY - MARCH 15:  Head coach Steve Prohm of the Murray State Racers shouts from the sidelines against the Colorado State Rams  during the second round of the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at KFC YUM! Center on March 15, 2012 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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Iowa State secured its first commitment Wednesday of what will be a pivotal class of forwards in 2017.

KeyShawn Faezell of Mississippi committed to Steve Prohm and the Cyclones, he announced Wednesday.

“After praying to God to lead me in the right path and talking with my dad,” Faezell wrote, “I’ve decided to further my education and basketball career under coach Prohm at Iowa State University.”

Faezell, a 6-foot-9 consensus top-150 forward in the 2017 class, joins wing Terrence Lewis as the first two members of a class that figures to number at least six for ISU. The addition of Faezell is key because ISU will be losing three members of its frontcourt it will likely be leaning on heavily in 2015-16 in Deonte Burton, Merrill Holden and Darrell Bowie. A 2016 big man, Cameron Lard, has also yet to enroll in classes this fall due to academic issues, making Faezell’s commitment even more important should Lard be unable to get clearance.

“They need some people to come in and compete,” Feazell told the Ames Tribune. “I think I fit in the program.”

Prohm’s teams dating back to his Murray State days have always been guard-oriented and guard-heavy, but beginning to stack the roster with quality big men will be key as he looks to continue the Cyclones’ success in the Big 12, which includes a school-record five-straight NCAA tournament appearances.

BYU adds commit for 2019

Dave Rose
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BYU added a commitment from a high school senior this week, but the Cougars won’t be seeing him on campus until 2019.

Kolby Lee, a 6-foot-9 forward from Idaho, pledged to BYU on Monday evening, but won’t suit up until after serving a two-year mission for the Church of Latter Day Saints, according to the Deseret News.

“I had a great feeling about BYU, and I prayed about it,” Lee told the paper. “I just feel like it’s the right fit for me. It just seems right. It feels right.”

Lee chose BYU over offers from  Utah State, Boise State and UC Davis. He was rated a four-star prospect by ESPN and three by Scout.

His decision to forego immediately joining BYU certainly isn’t a new wrinkle for the Cougars, who routinely see their players either delay their initial eligibility or pause it mid-career while serving on missions.

Self pays freshman Jackson a major compliment

Josh Jackson, from Napa, Calif.,, dunks over Nancy Mulkey, from Cypress, Texas, as he competes in the slam dunk contest during the McDonald's All-American Jam Fest, Monday, March 28, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Matt Marton)
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Freshman phenom production under Bill Self has been something of a contentious topic. Many fault the coach, who has won one national title and 12-straight Big 12 championships, for not developing one-and-done talent to their fullest potential during their single-season stays in Lawrence. Cliff Alexander and Cheick Diallo are Exhibit 1-A and 1-B for this argument in recent years.

Whatever outside criticism there is (Andrew Wiggins did go No. 1 overall just 2 years ago, after all), Self isn’t shying away from hyping the latest freshman with big expectations to come to KU. When asked who the greatest athlete of all-time is at the school’s annual Tradition Night last week, Self had a simple, if tongue-and-cheek, response.

“I’ll say Josh Jackson,” Self said of the the 6-foot-8 shooting guard ranked No. 1 in his class, according to Lawrence Journal-World.

With others answering with the likes of Michael Jordan and Muhammed Ali, it’s pretty fair to say Self was playing to the crowd with the answer, but it’s still telling that he was willing to deliver such a sound bite, even if it was before a welcoming audience. Self didn’t try to seriously depress expectations for Wiggins, a player Jackson is often compared to, and it looks like he won’t for Jackson as well.

Jackson, though, won’t have the burden Wiggins had as there’s one of the country’s best backcourts in Frank Mason II and Devonte Graham to help shoulder the workload for the Jayhawks.

 

ACC non-commital on HB2 stance

John Swofford
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With North Carolina unwilling to rescind their controversial so-called bathroom bill, the NBA has withdrawn its All-Star Game from the state this year and numerous high-profile music acts have canceled performances as a result.

The ACC is declining to join them with a hard-line, or really any, position.

“We don’t want to damage our league with any premature decisions,” commissioner John Swofford said on The David Glenn Show. “We’ll just see how it plays out.”

The ACC, of course, has quite the presence in the state with North Carolina, N.C. State, Duke and Wake Forest all in the Tar Heel State. Swofford’s comments are sure to draw the interest of the LGBT community, which has roundly been critical of the bill, which requires people to use the bathroom which corresponds to the gender on their birth certificate, and has recently been active in college athletics, opposing the Big 12’s potential inclusion of BYU in its expansion plans over concerns of the Church of Latter Day Saints school’s honor code.

North Carolina’s bill has also drawn the eye of the NCAA, which is requiring potential championship sights to provide information on local anti-discrimination laws.

One of the loudest voices in the ACC, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, has come out against the law.

“It’s an embarrassing bill,” Coach K said last month.

The Champions Classic renewed through 2019

LAWRENCE, KS - FEBRUARY 27: Bill Self head coach of the Kansas Jayhawks claps for his team as they celebrate winning the Big 12 Conference Championship after they defeated Texas Tech Red Raiders 67-58 at Allen Fieldhouse on February 27, 2016 in Lawrence, Kansas. With the win, Kansas clinched its 12th straight conference championship. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
Ed Zurga/Getty Images
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The Champions Classic is back, baby!!!

On Wednesday, the four schools that participate in the event — Kentucky, Duke, Kansas and Michigan State — announced that they have signed deals to extend the life of the doubleheader for another three years.

This is terrific news. The Champions Classic is always the best early-season event of the season, an annual double-header that always ends up putting together two of the best non-conference games in packed NBA arenas. This year, it features Duke, the consensus preseason No. 1 team in the country, squaring off with Kansas, who is a consensus top three team with the No. 1 freshman in the class, Josh Jackson, on their roster, in one game.

The other game? Kentucky, the third consensus top three team nationally, going up against Tom Izzo and Michigan State, who will be, at worst, a top 15 team in the preseason polls.

So yeah, we’re going to get a pair of sensational basketball games in Madison Square Garden on Nov. 15th. MSG also just so happens to be the best arena to watch a great neutral site basketball game.

It’s going to be awesome.

There’s only one possible way to make it better: turn it into a two-day event, with the winners squaring off for the Champions Classic title the following night.

Make it happen.

Anyway, here’s the schedule:

Nov. 14, 2017 (United Center, Chicago)
Kansas vs. Kentucky
Duke vs. Michigan State

Nov. 13, 2018 (Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis)
Michigan State vs. Kansas
Duke vs. Kentucky

Nov. 12, 2019 (Madison Square Garden, New York)
Kansas vs. Duke
Michigan State vs. Kentucky