Harry Giles (AP)

SIGNING DAY: 25 Class of 2016 players you need to know

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(The post has been contributed to by Corey Evans, Managing Editor of HoopSeen.com.)

THE STUDS? Here are the ten best players in a class that may be better than 2013

Harry Giles, 6-foot-10 forward: The best player in all of high school basketball, while Giles will sit out his senior year at Oak Hill Academy this winter with a torn ACL, it still doesn’t take away from the immense potential, production, and alpha-dog mentality from the 6-foot-10 forward. Giles recently called Duke his college home and should be a one-and-done type and future lottery draft pick come 2017. (CE)

Josh Jackson, 6-foot-7 wing:  There’s an argument to be made that the native of Detroit is the No. 1 overall prospect in the class and some firmly believe that he is. The 6-foot-7 Jackson is as athletic as it gets on the wing and he’s well-rounded as a defender, rebounder and passer besides being a high-level scorer. Still uncommitted, expect Jackson to be one of the last prospects to make a commitment as he’ll likely sort through who declares for the NBA draft before making his decision. Arizona, Kansas, Maryland and Michigan State have been getting the most chatter with Jackson recently. (SP)

De’Aaron Fox, 6-foot-3 point guard: Fox will make his college decision on Thursday evening and all signs point to Kentucky grabbing the 6-foot-3 lefty from Texas. Regardless of where he calls fit, Fox had one of the best senior summers that I can recall and because of it, is an elite, blueblood recruit and a potential one-and-done prospect. An excellent two-way ballplayer, Fox can score it, facilitate, distribute, finish, and defend, all things that make him a top shelf prospect in the 2016 class. (CE)

Jayson Tatum, 6-foot-8 wing: Part of a loaded recruiting class at Duke, Tatum is a smooth and natural wing scorer who can also do a lot of damage as a passer in the pick-and-roll. Adept at drawing a lot of fouls, the 6-foot-8 Tatum has an advanced mid-range game and has improved on straight-line drives this fall. Another potential one-and-done candidate in Duke’s loaded Class of 2016. (SP)

Dennis Smith, 6-foot-3 point guard: Just like Giles where Smith hails from North Carolina and also sitting out his senior year due to a torn ACL, when healthy, there aren’t many more athletic and explosive guys around. He has received Russell Westbrook and Baron Davis comparisons and whichever way you see up, Dennis Smith is a top of the line recruit who will be playing out his college days at NC State. A lethal athlete who has gotten better as a facilitator within the half-court setting, Smith sets the bar at the lead guard spot within the high school realm. (CE)

RELATED: HoopSeen.com’s National Signing Day coverage

Malik Monk, 6-foot-4 guard: Perhaps the most electric scoring guard in all of high school basketball, the uncommitted Monk can put up points in a hurry from anywhere on the floor. Whether its deep 3-pointers or high-flying dunks, Monk is capable of going for 50 points if he heats up. Arkansas and Kentucky are the main schools involved for Monk, the younger brother of former Razorback star wide receiver Marcus Monk. (SP)

Thon Maker, 7-foot-0 center: Polarizing is an easy way to describe the way that many within the basketball industry view Thon Maker over the years. After settling upon remaining within the 2016 class, Maker had quite the summer campaign winning the MVP of the famed NBPA Camp in June and ever since, had matched the production with all that the buzz that the 7-footer has received. Maker competes with unlimited energy levels, has gotten better with his decision-making abilities, and because of it, the Athlete Institute senior big man has seen his numbers on the stat sheet improve vastly; Arizona State, Indiana, St. John’s, and Notre Dame seem to be among the top four for Maker at the current moment. (CE)

Miles Bridges, 6-foot-6 wing: A powerful and versatile wing who can score from all three levels, Bridges gives Michigan State a talented wing to help build around. The lefty can play multiple spots on the floor thanks to his size and skill level and he’s physical enough to be a very good rebounder from the wing as well. (SP)

Lonzo Ball, 6-foot-5 point guard: Has there been a better passer in the past 5-10 years of high school ball than Lonzo Ball? I am not totally sure. His outlet passes rival only Kevin Love and funny as it seems, the 6-foot-6 guard will play out his college days at UCLA, just as well. Not afraid to let it go from deep either, Ball is a very entertaining but productive lead guard who makes other better but can also score the ball via the pull-up jumper and should be an immediate presence as one of the best guards throughout the college realm during the 2016 basketball season. (CE)

Bam Adebayo, 6-foot-9 power forward: One of the top uncommitted forwards left in the Class of 2016, Adebayo formed a ridiculous one-two punch with point guard Dennis Smith on the grassroots circuit this spring. Adebayo could follow his former teammate to N.C. State, but Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina and Wake Forest are also doing everything they can to get Bam on campus. (SP)

Terrance Ferguson (Getty Images)
Terrance Ferguson (Getty Images)

THE NEXT D’ANGELO RUSSELL? Here are five guys from outside the top ten that have the ability to be a top five NBA Draft pick one day

  • Jonathan Isaac, 6-foot-10 wing: If we are talking about breakouts, no one has gone from a relative unknown and into the picture as a top-10 recruit nationally within the past calendar year than Jon Isaac. The 6-foot-10 forward is the closest thing that we have seen since Kevin Durant due to his slender frame, quality length, and impeccable shooting touch from off the deck. Heading to Florida State, Isaac could be the scoring replacement on the wings if Xavier Rathan-Mayes and/or Dwayne Bacon leave after this upcoming college basketball season. (CE)
  • Terrance Ferguson, 6-foot-6 wing: One of the most naturally gifted players in the Class of 2016, the Alabama commit could win the NBA dunk contest or 3-point contest someday if he maximizes his potential. While Ferguson is known best for his ridiculous mixtapes filled with impossible dunks, he’s also a fluid shooter with deep range. (SP)
  • Marques Bolden, 6-foot-10 center: With great length, a body that should blow up once it hits a college weight room, and an excellent, low-block skillset, there aren’t many more at the 5-spot in the 2016 class that have a better future ahead of them than Marques Bolden. The Texas native can score over either shoulder, is deceptively bouncy around the basket, and when engaged, can put up 20-20 numbers on the stat sheet. There have been mixed reports of when Bolden will commit but it looks like things are down to the likes of Kansas, Alabama, Kentucky, and Duke, with the Jayhawks and Tide as the favorites heading into the winter months. (CE)
  • Rawle Alkins, 6-foot-4 shooting guard: As one of the best players to come from New York City in recent memory, Alkins carries a big reputation and a big game to match. The scoring guard gets it done in a number of different ways as he can attack the basket or knock down jumpers. Alkins recently moved to North Carolina to play his senior year of high school and he’s taken multiple visits to N.C. State and North Carolina. St. John’s and head coach Chris Mullin are hoping Alkins comes back to New York. (SP)
  • Markelle Fultz, 6-foot-4 guard: From a jayvee performer and now a McDonald’s All-American shoe-in within a matter of 16 months, Markelle Fultz took the country by storm and has yet to stop improving. More of a scorer from off the bounce with progressing athleticism at the basket, the DeMatha standout has now taken on the task of becoming a lead guard who can score it and pass it. Headed to Washington next year, a quality coup and steal for the Huskies, Fultz might have the best shot at being the next D’Angelo Russell out of anyone within the 2016 class. (CE)

THE NEXT BONZIE COLSON? They may not be Burger Boys, but here are five players that may play a major role in March as freshman

  • Bruce Brown, 6-foot-3 guard: A tough and capable guard with a lot of experience, Brown is physical enough to be able to compete from the moment he sets foot on campus. Indiana, Miami and Xavier have already hosted Brown for official visits while he’s also scheduled to check out Purdue. There is some speculation that Brown could end his recruitment during signing week, but he could wait until the spring as well. (SP)
  • James Banks, 6-foot-10 center: The task is a bit of a daunting one for Shaka Smart and his coaching staff this recruiting cycle as they may have to replace possibly four big men within the interior in the 2016 class. With just one in the hopper in the frontcourt, James Banks is definitely a good start and the opportunity ahead of him in Austin is there for the taking. A quickly improving big man with the ideal tangibles already at hand, the Peach State native can score from 15-feet and in, cleans his area on the glass, and is a fine rim protector who should fit in from the day one under Smart’s  newly established culture and system at UT. (CE)
  • Braxton Key, 6-foot-7 wing: Five-star guard Terrance Ferguson is the centerpiece of Alabama head coach Avery Johnson’s recruiting efforts, but the 6-foot-7 Key gives the Crimson Tide a versatile wing who can score, pass and rebound. As part of a talented perimeter trio in Alabama’s Class of 2016, Key could be counted on to do a lot of the little things among that group. (SP)
  • Tony Carr, 6-foot-5 guard: While Penn State basketball hasn’t been at the forefront of many national rankings, Pat Chambers has had success with his lead guards in past years. With Tone Carr now set on attending PSU next fall, the native of Philadelphia should step right in and lead the Big 10 squad from the get-go. Carr showcases great size and length at the point guard spot, an improving perimeter jumper, and should have solid assets around him that might make the Nittany Lions a darkhorse candidate for some runs in the NCAA Tournament in the years ahead. (CE)
  • Alterique Gilbert, 6-foot-0 guard: The jet-quick point guard can touch the paint nearly any time he wants and head coach Kevin Ollie has to be thrilled that UConn has Gilbert in the fold. Although he’s a tad undersized, Gilbert makes up for it with a solid repertoire of floaters in the lane. If his perimeter jumper becomes more consistent, Gilbert could be an immediate scoring force for the Huskies. (SP)

KEY LATE ADDITIONS? Here are the five best prospects that have yet to decide when or where they’ll be going to school

  • Kobi Simmons, 6-foot-5 guard: One of the more interesting recruitments that we have seen in the 2016 class, Simmons came out a few weeks ago stating that he was down to a final three of Kentucky, UNLV, and Ohio State. However, his father also recently stated that the senior guard would wait until the spring to sign, making his recruitment even more intriguing. Regardless, the 6-foot-5 lead guard oozes with potential, has added some consistency to his perimeter jumper, and continues to improve as a facilitator of his team’s offense in the half-court setting. (CE)
  • Jarrett Allen, 6-foot-10 center: Recruiting in the case of the talented native of Texas has been interesting, as local program Houston tries to go against juggernauts like Kansas and Kentucky. Whoever ends up with Allen is getting a talented post scorer with good length and a high motor. A tremendous rebounder with good hands, Allen is a very good long-term prospect who could make a big impact in college. (SP)
  • Dewan Huell, 6-foot-10 forward: Huell is down to the likes of Florida State, Miami, and South Carolina and the 6-foot-9 center should produce wherever he calls fit. He competes with a mean streak and has really improved his face-up game from 15-feet and in. He has the body that should really take off once he hits a college weight room and though he might not be seen in the top-20 of most rankings, he could outperform many others due to his size, motor, and toughness down low. (CE)
  • Udoka Azubuike, 6-foot-11 center: A bruising center who nearly brings down the hoop when he dunks, Azubuike’s power game is incredibly difficult to stop at the high school level. Although he’ll need to work on his scoring moves outside of five feet, once the 270-pound big man establishes low post position, it’s game over for opposing defenses. Azubuike has taken official visits to Florida State, Kansas, N.C. State and North Carolina and many consider the Seminoles the team to beat. (SP)
  • Andrew Jones, 6-foot-5 shooting guardAt this time last year, Jones was primarily being coveted by Louisiana Tech. Now, the 6-foot-3 guard could pick from any school that he might choose where Texas, Baylor, Arizona, and Kansas look to have the best shot at him. The Texas native can play both on and off the ball and sure doesn’t mind contact on the attack to the basket. With a fine motor, good toughness, and an ever-improving skillset in the backcourt, Jones continues to flourish as a well-tracked and prioritized blue chip recruit who won’t sign until the spring. (CE)

(You can read Corey’s work at HoopSeen.com and you can follow him on twitter @CoreyEvans_10)

Mizzou-Kansas benefit game raises nearly 2M for charity

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While there’s still a demand that longtime rivals Missouri and Kansas resume their basketball series at some point, Sunday’s exhibition game in Kansas City helped whet the appetites of many in attendance. But more important than the series and the opportunity for head coaches Cuonzo Martin and Bill Self to get an early evaluation of their teams against outside competition was the cause.

The rivals, separated by conference realignment that led Missouri to the SEC and the Big 12 to the brink of collapse, got together to raise money for hurricane relief. Multiple hurricanes hit the United States, Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands and other portions of the Caribbean earlier this fall, with some areas still in the early stages of getting things back in order.

The Showdown for Relief came about to help those in need, and it sparked a movement across college basketball as well.

It was announced at halftime of Sunday’s exhibition that the schools and their supporters managed to raise an impressive $1.75 million for hurricane relief.

According to Gary Bedore of the Kansas City Star more than $600,000 of the money raised came by way of pay-per-view sales for the game, which cost $40 for those unable to get to the Sprint Center.

“It doesn’t happen with Nike,” Boeheim says of FBI investigation

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One of the prevailing thoughts regarding this opening salvo of the FBI’s investigation into corruption in college basketball is that while it’s currently adidas’ turn in the barrel, whatever malfeasance may be occurring is unlikely to be just isolated to that single shoe company.

When the FBI says they “have your playbook” in regards to alleged corruption,  it would seem they’re indicating at a systemic issue in college basketball rather than a single apparel company like adidas, which had two executives arrested amid the probe that shaken the hoops landscape.

Jim Boeheim, though, does not share those sentiments.

“It doesn’t happen with Nike,” Boeheim said at Syracuse’s media day, according to the Syracuse Post-Standard. “Nike has about 80 schools. The guys we’re recruiting, we’re recruiting against three or four Nike schools most of the time. (Nike) isn’t going to help one of those schools.”

Well, that settles it. Nike and its schools are in the clear. Even if the apparel giant’s grassroots hoops division was reportedly served a subpoena last month. And that Merl Code, one of the adidas executives arrested, worked for Nike previously.

Of course, there may be issues with some of the logic Boeheim employs here. While, as he says, Syracuse may often being going against other Nike schools in recruiting, there are surely times when adidas or Under Armour schools are in the mix. What happens then? Or even if it’s multiple Nike schools competing, the hypothetical money changing hands is illicit, and thereby under the table and unofficial, so it’s not like there wouldn’t be plausible deniability if a coach on the losing end of a recruitment  ever went to express his displeasure at any particular rumors. And how hard – or publicly – is a coach going to complain when his school is securing millions from Nike in cash and gear each year?

It’s also worth noting that not all schools are created equal, even if they’re under the same apparel umbrella. Ohio State’s contract is worth $16.8 million a year while someone like Kansas State’s is worth $1.9 million, according to Forbes. Nike may have an interest in helping one school over the other, theoretically.

Maybe Boeheim is correct, but it’s clear the entire system – and all the entities its made up of – are going to be under scrutiny. So the FBI probably isn’t going to exempt Nike, or any other apparel company, from its ongoing investigation, regardless of what a coach at a Nike school says. It’s also worth noting, in deference to full disclosure, that Nike has long outfitted Syracuse, and Boeheim has been very active as a part of Team USA basketball, where Nike is quite influential

“First of all, I think the FBI could do a lot better investigating criminals and terrorists than they can investigating college basketball,” Boeheim said. “In my opinion. I’m a tax-payer. There’s a few tax-payers here. I’d sure as hell rather have them looking into terrorism and not spending three years investigating AAU programs or shoe companies. That’s the least of our concern.”

 

Watch list released for Abdul-Jabbar award

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Twenty players were announced as members of the preseason watch list for the Karee Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year award.

Among the 20 are Wisconsin’s Ethan Happ, Texas A&M’s Tyler Davis, Texas’ Mohamed Bamba, St. Mary’s senior Jock Landale and Purdue’s Isaac Haas.

“I would like to thank the Basketball Hall of Fame for the honor of being the namesake of this award,” said Abdul-Jabbar, a 1995 inductee of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and six-time NBA Champion, said in a release. “The student-athletes recognized have worked tirelessly to earn their spots on this list and I look forward to seeing how their hard work will pay off this season.”

Previous winners include Przemek Karnowski (2017), Jakob Poetl (2016) and Frank Kaminsky (2015).

The group of 20 (though players not included in the preseason watch list can be later included) will be trimmed to 10 in February and five finalists in March. The winner will be announced April 6.

2018 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year Award Candidates

Dusan Ristic Arizona
Austin Wiley Auburn
Kingsley Okoroh California
Tacko Fall Central Florida
Marques Bolden Duke
John Egbunu Florida
Jessie Govan Georgetown
Ben Lammers Georgia Tech
Nick Richards Kentucky
Omer Yurtseven NC State
Isaac Haas Purdue
Jock Landale Saint Mary’s
Angel Delgado Seton Hall
Michael Humphrey Stanford
Vladimir Brodziansky TCU
Mohamed Bamba Texas
Tyler Davis Texas A&M
Thomas Welsh UCLA
Chimezie Metu USC
Ethan Happ Wisconsin

 

Southland Preview: Can Stephen F. Austin regain the throne?

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Beginning in September and running up through November 10th, the first day of the regular season, College Basketball Talk will be unveiling the 2017-2018 NBCSports.com college hoops preview package.

Today, we are previewing the Southland.

The Southland finally saw Stephen F. Austin‘s dominant run end last season as New Orleans claimed the regular season title and NCAA tournament autobid. Although the Lumberjacks finished in second place in head coach Kyle Keller’s first season, expectations are in place for another potential conference title in 2017-18. Stephen F. Austin returns eight of their top nine producers from last season including Player of the Year candidate T.J. Holyfield on the interior. If Stephen F. Austin’s offense can get a boost then they could be in for another dangerous season.

Texas A&M-Corpus Christi has to replace the scoring punch of forward Rashawn Thomas but do-it-all senior Ehab Amin is back to lead the charge. Amin led the nation in steals last season while filling up the box score in many other ways as he’s flanked by guards Kareem South and Joseph Kilgore. Lamar made a leap last season as they won 19 games and made a CIT appearance. Senior forward Colton Weisbrod is a throwback undersized frontcourt presence while the backcourt of point guard Joey Frenchwood and shooter Nick Garth is among the league’s stronger returning duos.

Returning most of last season’s contributors, Abilene Christian is hoping to make a major leap up the Southland standings. Sophomore big man Jalone Friday is a promising player to build around while junior guards Jaren Lewis and Jaylen Franklin both put up double-figures in the scoring column last season. Incarnate Word is going to put up points but the Cardinals will need to figure things out on the defensive end. Jalin Hart, Simi Socks and Shawn Johnson are all returning upperclassmen who averaged at least 14 points per game each last season.

Southeastern Louisiana has a chance to make noise as junior point guard Marlain Veal and junior forward Moses Greenwood are a solid 1-2 punch. With a deep bench returning, the Lions have a lot of upperclass experience and could be a surprise team. The return of Jalan West for a seventh season is a major story for Northwestern State. The former Player of the Year candidate has to stay healthy but he’s joined by junior big man Ishmael Lane and senior guard Devonte Hall to form a solid nucleus.

Losing four starters will be tough for Sam Houston State but junior point guard John Dewey III is back to lead the team’s offense. Senior big man Chris Galbreath has a chance to be a breakout player. Central Arkansas has the Southland’s returning leading scorer in senior guard Jordan Howard but the Bears have to make major strides on the defensive end and controlling turnovers.

New Orleans has a lot of new pieces after last year’s run to the Big Dance as the Privateers need to replace three starters. Senior forward Travin Thibodeaux and senior big man Makur Puou are back along with a lot of question marks. After a CIT appearance, Houston Baptist loses five seniors and multiple transfers but senior center Josh Ibarra is an all-league threat.  

Nicholls lost seven seniors and needs to rebuild as senior point guard Jahvaughn Powell has a chance to have a big year. McNeese finished in last place a season ago but most of that group is back. Sophomore guard Kalob Ledoux has a chance to be one of the league’s better guards.

MORE: 2017-18 Season Preview Coverage | Conference Previews | Preview Schedule

PRESEASON SOUTHLAND PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Ehab Amin, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi

College basketball’s leader with 124 total steals last season (3.4 per game), this 6-foot-4 senior guard can also put up numbers all over the stat sheet. The Egyptian averaged 16.9 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game last season while shooting 46 percent from the floor. If Amin improves his 28 percent three-point shooting then he could be in for a monster season.

THE REST OF THE PRESEASON SOUTHLAND TEAM

  • Colton Weisbrod, Lamar: Undersized at 6-foot-5 but great in the paint, this senior averaged 15.1 points and 8.1 boards per contest. Weisbrod shot 52 percent from the floor but only 16 percent from three-point range.
  • T.J. Holyfield, Stephen F. Austin: Versatile junior forward averaged 11.7 points, 7.2 rebounds, 1.2 blocks and 1.0 steals per game while shooting 52 percent from the floor.
  • Jordan Howard, Central Arkansas: The senior has a chance to reach 2,000 career points after dropping 19.5 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game last season. Howard could stand to improve his shooting efficiency.
  • Jalone Friday, Abilene Christian: Intriguing sophomore big man had tremendous splits (52% FG, 45% 3PT, 82% FT) and put up 13.7 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game last season in only 21.7 minutes per contest.

ONE TWITTER FEED TO FOLLOW: @SouthlandSports

PREDICTED FINISH

  1. Stephen F. Austin
  2. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi
  3. Lamar
  4. Abliene Christian
  5. Incarnate Word
  6. Southeastern Louisiana
  7. Northwestern State
  8. Sam Houston State
  9. Central Arkansas
  10. New Orleans
  11. Houston Baptist
  12. Nicholls
  13. McNeese

‘Border War’ exhibition to be streamed

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The 19,000 fans who secured tickets to the Sprint Center for the charity-inspired reignition of the Border War won’t be the only ones to be able to watch Kansas and Missouri play Sunday.

The exhibition game, whose proceeds will be used for hurricane relief, will be streamed live for those willing to spend $40, the schools announced Friday.

“Our first objective was to sell out Sprint Center,” the two schools said jointly in a release. “Once we achieved the sellout so quickly, our fans who could not get tickets expressed tremendous interest in having the game televised. We wanted to make sure that the charities we’ve identified would be the only entities to derive revenue from this game.  SIDEARM Sports has provided the platform to allow us to create a second stream of revenue via this telecast.”

The broadcast will feature Leif Lisec doing play-by-play and ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla and Holly Rowe as the analyst and sideline reporter, respectively. The trio are donating their time for the broadcast.

The Jayhawks and Tigers haven’t played since 2012, when Missouri bolted the Big 12 for the SEC. There certainly has been resentment from the move, which has kept the two from scheduling a non-conference tilt. Now, though, they’re hoping the layoff has built enough anticipation to raise upward of $1 million for the Houston Harvey Relief Fund, the Rebuild Texas Fund, the Florida Disaster Fund, Juntos y Unidos Por Puerto Rico and the Fund for the U.S. Virgin Islands after a devastating hurricane season in the United States.

The game will pit the perennial powerhouse Jayhawks, expected to be a top-five preseason team and strong favorite to win the Big 12, against an ascendant Missouri, which has the potential 2018 No. 1 NBA draft pick Michael Porter, Jr. headlining the roster reboot under first-year coach Cuonzo Martin.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for two schools to do something together for the better of the masses,” Kansas coach Bill Self said last week, “and be able to send a significant amount of money to people that are suffering right now. So that is going to come to fruition, and we’re real happy about it.”