Coaching changes can wreak havoc on a program’s recruiting class, and that’s been the case for UNLV thanks to the tumultuous nature of their search for a new head coach. Thursday evening one prospect who remained committed to the Mountain West program throughout the process that ultimately led to Marvin Menzies landing the job announced that he’s decided to reopen his recruitment.
Four-star point guard Jaylen Fisher, ranked 55th in the Class of 2016 by Rivals.com, announced via social media that he’s decided to de-commit from UNLV.
“I was very much looking forward to the opportunity to be a Rebel this year,” Fisher wrote. “But there have been a lot of changes with the program since I committed to UNLV; changes that have made me reconsider whether UNLV is still a good fit for me. So with that in mind and after much consideration with my family, I have decided it’s best that I reopen my recruitment.”
Fisher’s decision leaves wing Justin Jackson as the lone member of UNLV’s 2016 class at this point, with Jackson telling Scout.com in early April that he was undecided as to whether or not he’d reopen his recruitment. The school’s search for a coach began in January when they parted ways with Dave Rice, promoting Todd Simon in an interim role.
After deciding not to retain Simon, who’s now the head coach at Southern Utah, UNLV hired former Little Rock head coach Chris Beard…who left for Texas Tech less than two weeks later. UNLV landed Menzies, who they passed over for Beard, and he’s got a lot of work to do to field a roster that will be competitive in the Mountain West next season.
As for Fisher, the Arlington, Tennessee native should be a popular prospect with his decision to reopen things. And with Memphis losing former commit Charlie Moore, the Tigers are in need of help at the point. The question now is whether or not new head coach Tubby Smith will look to reach out to Fisher.
h/t Memphis Commercial-Appeal
With front court rotation members Malik Martin and Dorian Clark both transferring at the end of the season, USC had room for a late addition as they look to contend in the Pac-12 in 2016-17. NBC Sports confirmed Monday afternoon that head coach Andy Enfield and his staff landed a commitment from 6-foot-11 forward Nick Rakocevic, who played his high school basketball at St. Joseph HS in Westchester, Illinois.
News of Rakocevic’s commitment was first reported by Scout.com.
Rakocevic joins fellow forward Harrison Henderson and guards Jonah Mathews and DeAnthony Melton in USC’s 2016 class to date, with those three having signed National Letters of Intent during the early signing period in mid-November. The Trojans will also add wing Shaqquan Aaron into the fold, as he sat out this season after transferring in from Louisville.
Rakocevic is considered to be one of the top prospects in Illinois, producing a big senior season for a team that finished fourth in the Illinois Class 3A state tournament. With averages of 19.8 points, 15.1 rebounds and 3.7 blocks per game, Rakocevic was a CSN Chicago Preps all-area selection.
“Rakocevic is a solid late grab for USC after a very strong season in which he was the only senior on his final-four team in Illinois’ Class 3A. The big man has been inconsistent at times during his career, but he’s also a productive interior finisher who has some upside if he adds strength,” notes NBC Sports recruiting analyst Scott Phillips.
Rakocevic held offers from programs such as Arizona State, Miami and West Virginia in addition to USC. His decision to attend USC comes just days after he completed an official visit to the campus.
Even with the personnel losses USC incurred at the end of this season, they don’t exactly have a bare cupboard in the front court either. Nikola Jovanovic will be back for his senior season, and two of the Pac-12’s top freshmen in Bennie Boatwright and Chimezie Metu return as well. Those returns should aid the development of Rakocevic and Henderson next season.
Five-star Class of 2016 center Udoka Azubuike, one of the best remaining senior basketball prospects in the nation, ended his recruitment on Thursday and pledged to Kansas in a televised announcement.
The 6-foot-11, 270-pound Azubuike is considered the No. 27 overall prospect in the Class of 2016, according to Rivals, and he was recently announced to the prestigious Jordan Brand Classic and the McDonald’s All-American Game.
Choosing from his final four of Florida State, Kansas, N.C. State and North Carolina, Azubuike gives the Jayhawks a bruising center who can seal and score within five feet of the basket with the best of the them. Although Azubuike will need to improve his hands, range and touch, he’s a massive post prospect who should be able to rebound, score near the hoop and clog up the paint on defense.
With Kansas losing Perry Ellis, Hunter Mickelson and Jamari Traylor, Azubuike gives the Jayhawks another big body on the interior and he’s also an important commitment in case Cheick Diallo or Carlton Bragg decide to turn pro.
Azubuike helped a very good Georgia Stars team win the Peach Jam in the Nike EYBL this summer as he played in 25 games. The center averaged 13.1 points, 7.6 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game while shooting 66 percent from the field in EYBL play.
Azubuike joins three-star forward Mitch Lightfoot in Kansas recruiting efforts for the Class of 2016.
One of the top guards in the Class of 2016 has decided that he’ll head west to play college basketball.
Kobi Simmons announced Saturday evening at the HoopHall Classic in Springfield, Massachusetts that he will attend Arizona next year. Simmons, who attends Saint Francis School in Alpharetta, Georgia, picked Sean Miller’s program over Kentucky and Ohio State. He’s the second commitment in the Class of 2016 for Arizona, joining power forward Lauri Markkanen.
Simmons, ranked 19th in the Class of 2016 by Rivals.com, is a 6-foot-5 point guard who can also play off the ball. In addition to playing for the Saint Francis School, Simmons played his grassroots basketball for the Atlanta Celtics organization alongside the likes of Michigan State commit Josh Langford. At the adidas Uprising Summer Championships in Las Vegas in July, Simmons averaged 20.4 points per game. He was also part of an all-star team that participated in the adidas EuroCamp in Italy last summer.
Arizona has room to add more to its 2016 class, with there being four seniors on the current roster. Among those four is guard Gabe York, and the addition of Simmons will help account for that loss.
Among the current perimeter players with eligibility remaining are Kadeem Allen (redshirt junior), Parker Jackson-Cartwright, Allonzo Trier and Justin Simon (both freshmen). The addition of Simmons could mean more time off the ball for Allen, who’s been used as Arizona’s starting point guard after redshirting in 2014-15. Another highly regarded prospect Arizona remains in the running for is five-star wing Josh Jackson, with Michigan State being one of the programs looking to land a commitment from him.
Friday afternoon the Jordan Brand Classic announced the first 16 players for its annual Boys All-American Game, with the list including many of the top players in the Class of 2016. These are just some of the players who will play in the game, scheduled for April 15 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Of the 16 players on the initial list 13 have committed to colleges, with three headed to Kentucky and two headed to Duke. The remainder of the selections for this game will be made at the end of the high school basketball season. The Jordan Brand Classic has a total of four games, with their also being International, New York Regional and Girls All-American games.
Below are the 16 players selected for the Boys All-American Game, with their college commitment status in parentheses.
F Bam Adebayo (Kentucky)
C Udoka Azuibuike (uncommitted; will commit this weekend at the Hoophall Classic in Springfield)
C Marques Bolden (uncommitted)
C Tony Bradley (North Carolina)
F Miles Bridges (Michigan State)
G De’Aaron Fox (Kentucky)
G Markelle Fultz (Washington)
G Alterique Gilbert (Connecticut)
F Harry Giles (Duke)
F Jonathan Isaac (Florida State)
F Josh Jackson (uncommitted)
G Andrew Jones (Texas)
F V.J. King (Louisville)
G Malik Monk (Kentucky)
F Omari Spellman (Villanova)
F Jayson Tatum (Duke)
Indiana picked up its fourth Class of 2016 commitment on Saturday as guard Devonte Green, the younger brother of San Antonio Spurs guard Danny Green, pledged to the Hoosiers. The 6-foot-1 Green announced his decision to commit to Indiana on Saturday afternoon.
Regarded as a three-star prospect, according to Rivals, Green can play a bit of both guard spots and helps Indiana with additional perimeter flexibility for next season. Green joins four-star shooting guard Curtis Jones, four-star big man Da’Ron Davis and three-star guard Grant Gelon in Indiana’s 2016 class.
With the Hoosiers losing Yogi Ferrell and Nick Zeisloft next season — and with the team dealing with roster uncertainty with James Blackmon’s season-ending injury and Troy Williams potentially going pro — Green gives Indiana another insurance policy. The late-blooming Green hails from New York and attends Long Island Lutheran.