College Basketball Talk’s Recruiting Roundup

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Each Monday and Friday, College Basketball Talk’s Scott Phillips goes over some important news and notes in the world of college basketball recruiting. This week, UCLA’s big unofficial visits, Brandon Ingram sets an official visit, Josh Sharma has three schools in mind and Donovan Mitchell is down to five.

A big week for UCLA 

While UCLA has been in the news recently for the flooding at Pauley Pavilion, they still have some very good news on the recruiting front this week as they will have unofficial visits from two of the best small forwards in the country in Georgia native Jaylen Brown and North Carolina native Brandon Ingram.

Both Class of 2015 wings are five-star prospects and both the 6-foot-7 Brown and 6-foot-8 Ingram confirmed with NBCSports.com that they will visit UCLA’s campus after the completion of adidas Nations on Monday night.

Despite the flooding, neither elite prospect seems to mind that some of the facilities won’t be apart of their campus tours.

“I think it’s going to be pretty good. I talked with [UCLA assistant coach] David Grace and they said it wasn’t going to hurt my visit,” Ingram said of the flooding. “So we’re going up there August the 5th and I’m just looking forward to meeting with the coaches, meeting with the players there already and seeing how they like it.”

Brown also joked about the response he’s received on Twitter about his visit to UCLA, saying to NBCSports.com, “[The UCLA coaches] said that Pauley is down, but it’s alright. Everybody is tweeting me like it’s going to have some type of effect on my decision or something. It’s not. It’s fine. Kentucky fans have been using that to their advantage. It’s hilarious. They’re like, ‘Come to Kentucky, we have clean locker rooms,’ and stuff like that, but the UCLA fans go back at them like, ‘We’ll have brand-new locker rooms by the time you get there,’ so it’s funny to see stuff like that.”

With three first-round draft picks in the 2014 NBA Draft, it appears that elite recruits are taking notice of Steve Alford’s uptempo style at UCLA and how they can use it for their advantage. The recruiting process is still early for both Brown and Ingram, but UCLA getting them on campus is a good start to what is sure to be a busy fall.

Ingram, meanwhile, has an official visit set up to Duke from August 7th through August 9th and Brown would like to make an unofficial visit to Kentucky in September.

Josh Sharma is targeting three

As a legitimate seven-footer and top-100 prospect in the 2015 class, Josh Sharma has plenty of suitors in his recruitment.

Three schools have currently set themselves apart from the pack, however, as Sharma broke down his top three to NBCSports.com, including an upcoming unofficial visit.

“I have offers from a bunch of places but right now I’m focusing on Stanford, Wisconsin and Boston College and a couple others. But those are my main three right now,” Sharma said. “I’m visiting Stanford, August 6th. Me and my Mom are going up there after [adidas Nations] on an unofficial visit. But besides that, I haven’t planned any officials yet.”

The No. 75 overall prospect in Rivals‘ 2015 rankings, Sharma had a really good spring on the adidas Gauntlet with Mass Rivals and is looking to make a fall decision.

After a strong July, Donovan Mitchell down to five

One of the best players during the July live evaluation period was point guard Donovan Mitchell. The 6-foot-2 Mitchell showed off tremendous athleticism and skill from the point guard position during the month and it led to offers from all over the country.

But now, Mitchell is focused on five schools as he took to Twitter to announce his list:

All five of Mitchell’s finalists were all over him during July and Villanova already received an unofficial visit from the Brewster Academy product over the weekend.

Currently checking in at No. 101 in Rivals‘ 2015 rankings, Mitchell is due for a push up the rankings thanks to a lack of really good guard prospects and his great play during July.

Kentucky fans flood Facebook page of official John Higgins’ company with negative reviews

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Unhappy with how John Higgins performed at his part-time job, Kentucky fans did their best trash him at his full-time gig.

The Facebook page of the referee’s Omaha-based roofing company was flooded by Big Blue Nation with negative comments and reviews after they were displeased with the official’s work in the Wildcats’ Elite Eight loss to North Carolina.

Not only did fans leave obviously fake and vulgar comments on the page, they also deluged it with one-star reviews to drive down its average significantly.

Once again, the Internet is struck by its proportionality problem. What could be considered a silly bit of online pranking by a small minority suddenly turns into an avalanche of nastiness that could do real damage to someone’s life, business and family, given the importance of social media for companies in 2017. It becomes cruel when it reaches a level like this.

When there’s so many general complaints about the state of officiating in college basketball, it’s also not helpful to do something like this to one of the referees generally considered to be one of the country’s best. It’s not exactly a glowing endorsement for prospective future officials to follow the career path if it brings this level of negative attention to you off the court.

Report: North Carolina to miss out on NCAA events through 2022 if HB2 not addressed by Thursday

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North Carolina is in danger of losing out on hosting NCAA events through 2022 if the state does not make changes to HB2, the controversial so-called “bathroom bill” by Thursday afternoon, according to the leader of the Greater Raleigh Sports Alliance.

“I have confirmed with a contact very close to the NCAA that its deadline for HB2 is 48 hours from now,” Scott Dupree, the head of the Greater Raleigh Sports Alliance, said, according to the Raleigh News & Observer. “If HB2 has not been resolved by that time, the NCAA will have no choice but to move forward without the North Carolina bids.”

“The NCAA has already delayed the bid review process once and has waited as long as it possibly can, and now it must finalize all championship site selections through spring of 2022.”

The NCAA, as it reminded North Carolina last week, is making its determinations on hosts for events from 2018-2022 this week. There was movement last week at the North Carolina statehouse for a compromise on the bill, but that apparently stalled out, the News & Observer reported, though there remain efforts to make progress on a pact.

Should lawmakers not reach an agreement in time, the state’s flagship basketball programs will be without an NCAA tournament home-court advantage that they have often enjoyed. HB2 just this past year moved the first and second rounds out of the state and to South Carolina, where No. 2 seed Duke lost to the seventh-seeded Gamecocks in their home state.

Clearly, there’s much more to consider here than NCAA tournament implications, but it’s another reminder of the economic impact the bill has made in North Carolina. This week, The Associated Press estimated it will cost the state $3.76 billion over a 12-year period.

Baylor’s Freeman to graduate and transfer

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Baylor is losing one of its contributors over the past three seasons.

Al Freeman, a 6-foot-3 guard, will graduate and transfer to another school, the Bears announced Tuesday.

“Al has been a tremendous student-athlete and made great contributions to our program over the last four years, and we’re thrilled that he’s going to complete his degree at Baylor,” Bears coach Scott Drew said in a statement. “He’ll always be part of the Baylor family, and we’ll be rooting for him as he continues his career.”

Freeman, who redshirted his freshman year due to a broken wrist, started 57 games during his career in Waco and averaged 8.6 points and 2.6 rebounds per game. He was a full-time starter as a sophomore, but made just 22 this past season and saw his minutes slashed.

As a graduate transfer, the Charlotte native will be immediately eligible at his next program for his final collegiate season.

Xavier sophomore Edmond Sumner declares for NBA Draft

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Xavier sophomore Edmond Sumner has declared for the NBA Draft and is expected to sign with an agent.

“First let me start by saying these three years at Xavier have been the best of my life,” Sumner said in a statement. “I have certainly been presented with some ups and downs but they have only served to make me a stronger person. This decision was very hard for me because of the love I have for X. After weighing my options with my family, I have decided to enter the 2017 NBA Draft, fulfilling a lifelong dream. I want to thank Coach Mack and the rest of the staff for believing in me and giving me a chance when no one did! I’ll always be grateful for that. Xavier Nation I will always love you!”

Sumner, a 6-foot-6 point guard with dynamic athleticism and first round potential that averaged 15.0 points, but he is coming off of a torn ACL that he suffered in January. He’s likely to be a second round pick in this year’s NBA Draft.

This is a big loss for the Musketeers, but it’s one that they planned for. After his eruption last season, most expected him to put his name in the draft this season.

Duke freshman Harry Giles III declares for NBA Draft

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Harry Giles III has declared for the NBA Draft after playing just one season at Duke.

“Playing in the NBA has been my goal for as long as I can remember, and I’m so excited to take the next step in that journey,” Giles said. “My time at Duke has been a dream come true. I’ve built so many strong relationships here and I have so many people to thank, from my teammates and coaches to our medical staff and strength coach. I can’t understate how proud I am to be part of the Duke Basketball program forever.”

Giles played in 26 games for the Blue Devils. He started six games and averaged 3.9 points and 3.8 rebounds, but the numbers don’t tell the whole story with Giles. At one point considered to be the best player in the loaded Class of 2016, Giles has dealt with a pair of devastating knee injuries already. He underwent a third surgery right before the start of the season and never seemed like he was fully able to get back to being the player he was when he was in high school.

This is the right decision for Giles to make, as there is still some uncertainty regarding the health of his knees. Were his struggles due to the fact that he was tossed right into the middle of a college basketball season after having sat out for 14 straight months, or was this simply a result of knees that no longer allow him to be the player that he used to be?

He might still end up being a first round pick this year. At the very least, he’s make some guaranteed money if he can get into a camp. Maybe returning to school could have helped vault him into the lottery in 2018, but another year like this year would’ve firebombed his draft stock.

“With his uplifting personality and love for the game, Harry Giles has been a joy to coach,” Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “He is only beginning to scratch the surface of how good he can be on the basketball court. Harry has an exciting NBA future ahead of him and we are here to fully support him as a member of our brotherhood.”

I know I’m not alone when I say I hope that Giles gets healthy and succeeds in the NBA.