Rawle Alkins carries the torch as one of New York’s next great guards

Leave a comment

CHICAGO — Among the best players at the adidas Unrivaled Camp during the first week of the July live evaluation period was New York native Rawle Alkins. The 6-foot-4 Alkins is beginning to gain a reputation as one of New York City’s great, young guards and the Class of 2016 guard has a certain toughness about him that carries over well onto the court.

Already regarded as Rivals’ No. 27 overall prospect in the 2016 national class, Alkins can get to the rim in a number of different ways and has a unique scoring package within 15 feet of the basket. His jump shot still needs work to be consistent, but Alkins can bull his way to the rim against smaller guards or use his athleticism to explode past slower players. And at the rim, Alkins does a nice job finishing through contact.

“That’s New York City toughness,” Alkins said of his game to NBCSports.com. “I just want to prove that New York still has talent, is still good and still can compete.”

Inevitably, any highly-touted guard that comes out of New York will get compared to a past great from the city. As a native of Brooklyn, Alkins said that he already hears one name in particular — although Alkins skips the ridiculous antics often associated with this player.

“Everybody says I resemble Lance Stephenson,” Alkins said. “They all say I look like him, they all say I play like him because I’m tough and I’m a big guard. I don’t really look up to him because I don’t know him or anything, but he’s a great player.”

MOREQuotables Part I | Part II | Part III | All content from the 2014 July Live Period

Coming from a city as big as New York also means a lot of attention going Alkins’ way. Alkins attributed part of the toughness of his game, and his confidence, from coming from such a busy city that always has a lot going on.

“In my mind, I can compete with anyone,” Alkins said. “I guess you could say being in a tough area, you have to be tough all the time to get by. Guys that are from out of town aren’t used to that. Guys from Florida aren’t used to the drama and stuff like that. I’m not saying that New York is bad or anything, but it’s a city that never sleeps.”

Talking to Alkins about his game is also rather enlightening. Rather than gloat about something he did well, Alkins is the type of player that is fueled by improving his weaknesses. Although he had a big dunk and some big plays in the Unrivaled underclass All-Star game, he said afterwards, “I guess everybody remembered the dunk and didn’t see all of the things I could have done better.”

“I tell everyone when they ask for my strengths and weaknesses that everything is my weakness. I have nothing that’s really perfect in my game, I have nothing that’s really bad in my game. But I want to continue to improve until I’m 100 percent at everything,” Alkins said.

As far as the recruiting process goes, Alkins is still very much in the preliminary stages. A couple of college basketball’s blueblood programs have recently been involved, but Alkins has yet to take a college visit and is just sifting through interest and scholarship offers.

“Kentucky and Louisville are recruiting me now. Indiana, Miami, N.C. State, all have offered since the live period,” Alkins said. “I have a total of 15 offers now.”

Colleges will definitely keep track of New York City’s latest young guard and it will be interesting to see if Alkins stays in the area or elects to go to a national program in the next few years.

Creighton’s Khyri Thomas posterizes defender

Leave a comment

Creighton rising junior wing Khyri Thomas, like several of his teammates, are taking part in the Omaha Summer League this offseason.

On Thursday night, the 6-foot-3, 205-lb. Thomas eviscerated a defender with a one-handed posterization.

Thomas is coming off a breakout sophomore campaign for the Bluejays. He started all 35 games, averaging 12.3 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.5 steals per game. Aside from the increase in offensive production, Thomas served as one of the top defenders in the Big East. He shared the Big East Defensive Player of the Year Award with Villanova’s Josh Hart and Mikal Bridges.

Zion Williamson throws down 360 windmill dunk

Leave a comment

Zion Williamson added another jaw-dropping dunk in the layup lines on the first night of the second live evaluation period.

Williamson and his SC Supreme team took on Each 1 Teach 1 at the Hoopseen Best of the South at the LakePoint Sporting Community in greater Atlanta.

The 6-foot-7 power forward threw down a 360 windmill dunk during his pregame routines.

Each 1 Teach 1 would pick up a 70-67 victory over SC Supreme. Williamson would end with a monster stat line of 37 points and seven rebounds.

Appalachian State freshman shooter to transfer

Leave a comment

A 3-point threat became a late addition to the transfer market earlier this week.

Appalachian State rising sophomore Patrick Good informed head coach Jim Fox on his intentions to leave the program. He was granted his release on Wednesday, according to Bret Strelow of the Winston-Salem Journal.

“I was pretty shocked when he came in to tell me he was leaving,” Fox told the Winston Salem-Journal. “He was a guy who had a very good freshman season, and we’re surprised to see him go.”

“I enjoyed being around the team and the experience that I got from the first year,” Good added. “I don’t think I would change that for anything. I just felt like moving forward, there is just so much more that I was capable of.”

Good appeared in 29 of 30 games, all of the bench, for the Mountaineers. The 6-foot guard averaged 7.0 points, 2.3 rebounds, and 1.6 assists per game. His biggest asset to his newest team will  be in his ability to shoot from deep, connecting on 41 percent of his attempts during the 2016-17 season.

If Good plans to remain in at the Division I level, avoiding a year spent at a junior college, he will need to sit out the 2017-18 season due to NCAA transfer regulations. He will have three years of eligibility remaining.

Iowa State adds graduate transfer Zoran Talley

Leave a comment

Iowa State added a scoring option on Thursday night, one who is eligible immediately.

Zoran Talley, who spent his first three seasons at Old Dominion, will join the Cyclones as a graduate transfer this season.

“We are excited to add Zoran to our program,” Iowa State head coach Steve Prohm said in a statement issued by the athletic department. “He has had great success, both personally and as a team, at ODU and will be an asset for our team. Zoran brings versatility on both ends of the floor and his ability to play and guard several positions will benefit us. He can score and make plays and with him being immediately eligible, that is great for us.”

Talley, a 6-foot-7 wing, averaged 11.3 points for the Monarchs last season as a sophomore. However, he was dismissed from the team in April for a violation of team rules. This was preceded by two separate suspensions during the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons, according to Ed Miller of the Virginia Pilot.

He redshirted the 2014-15 season, leaving him two years of eligibility remaining at Iowa State. He is set to graduate in August.

Talley and fellow graduate transfer Hans Brase (Princeton) provides a boost in scoring, as well as in experience, in a frontline that returns Solomon Young, the rising sophomore big man.

Ex-NCAA scoring leader Daniel ready to return for new team

Leave a comment

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee guard James Daniel III finally has the chance to deliver a follow-up performance to his 2015-16 NCAA scoring title, an opportunity that essentially eluded him last season.

After an ankle injury caused Daniel to play just two games last season at Howard, the 6-foot graduate transfer brings experience and offense to Tennessee’s backcourt.

“I wanted to go on the biggest stage for my last year and try to pursue my hopes and dreams since I’ve been a little kid, which was to get to the NBA,” Daniel said.

Daniel likely won’t be shooting or scoring as much as he did at Howard, where he averaged 27.1 points per game to lead all Division I players in 2015-16. He’s more interested in getting to the NCAA Tournament, something he hasn’t done and Tennessee hasn’t accomplished since 2014.

“At this point in my career I’m ready to win,” Daniel said. “That’s pretty much what I have to do. I feel like if we win, my personal goals will be met.”

Daniel believed that NCAA berth would come last season as Howard was favored to win the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.

Those plans quickly went awry.

Daniel was diagnosed with a high ankle sprain that caused him to miss the first 14 games of the season. After returning and playing just two games, Daniel learned he had a chipped bone in his ankle. With Daniel out for the rest of the season, Howard finished 10-24.

That injury allowed Daniel to redshirt the 2016-17 season, giving him one more year of eligibility. He decided to spend that season in a bigger conference and considered Michigan, Ohio State and DePaul before selecting Tennessee.

Daniel remembered watching Tennessee games when he was younger and appreciating prolific guard Chris Lofton, who starred for the Volunteers from 2004-08. When Daniel visited Tennessee, he bonded with the team and sensed a family atmosphere.

“They’re competitive,” Daniel said. “They all want to win. That was the most intriguing part.”

Although Daniel’s ankle leaves his status uncertain for Tennessee’s three exhibition games next month in France and Spain, he’s expected to be ready in plenty of time for the start of the season.

Tennessee is counting on the additions of Daniel and Vincennes University transfer Chris Darrington to solidify a backcourt that struggled with inexperience last year.

“With Chris Darrington and James Daniel, we felt like we could get guys who liked to score and were not afraid to go make plays,” Tennessee coach Rick Barnes said. “I think that’s going to help these younger guys because they were put in situations they’d never been put in before.”

Barnes cited the maturity Daniel brings as Tennessee’s lone senior. Daniel will turn 24 on Jan. 29, about a month after Tennessee begins Southeastern Conference play. Nobody else on Tennessee’s roster is older than 20, though juniors Kyle Alexander and Brad Woodson will have their 21st birthdays before the season starts.

“He’s older than all of us, so I think I can learn some things from him,” Darrington said.

Daniel’s teammates will learn plenty about his knack for drawing fouls. Not only did Daniel lead all Division I players in scoring during that 2015-16 season, he also topped the nation in free-throw attempts with 331.

They’ll also learn about his work ethic. Daniel’s father, James Daniel Jr., remembers how his son used to take about 200 jump shots every morning before his classes started at Phoebus High School in Hampton, Virginia.

“He’s just been a workaholic,” James Daniel Jr. said. “Well, we’d call it a workaholic, but he’d probably say it was something that he loved doing.”

All that practice helped Daniel overcome his lack of height at Howard to become an NCAA scoring leader. Now he’s ready to compete at a higher level.

He got an idea of what to expect from Quinton Chievous, who made the move in reverse by leading MEAC program Hampton to the NCAA Tournament after starting out at Tennessee. Daniel said Chievous told him he “should do really well here.”

Daniel agrees.

“I don’t think they would have brought me here if they didn’t think I could compete at this level,” Daniel said.