Horace Spencer

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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, Bruce Pearl getting it done at Auburn, Texas guard cuts his list to six and fast-rising Seattle native cuts his list to four.

Bruce Pearl is getting it done on the recruiting trail at Auburn

Bruce Pearl couldn’t begin recruiting as the head coach of Auburn until 12:01 a.m. on August 24th and when that time came he landed two quality commitments to go with a Friday night commitment of another four-star player.

After a big weekend, it’s clear that Pearl will be a force on the recruiting trail at Auburn.

Not only did the former Tennessee coach, fresh off a three-year NCAA show-cause, land a big weekend of three key 2015 recruits, but he’s landed impact transfers to quickly rebuild the talent base at Auburn.

And he’s getting it done because he’s charismatic and has a lot to sell at his new job.

With his television stint on ESPN, the newly-programmed SEC Network and an athletic department already in the national limelight from a national championship appearance in football, kids know Auburn as an option and Pearl’s selling points have made it an attractive spot.

With plenty of playing time and an uptempo system, prospects want to play in that kind of situation, and with Pearl’s previous track record, recruits are already impressed.

Now, the big question for the newly-free Pearl and Auburn: Can they land a high-level recruit? While a class of high-quality, top-100 players is a promising beginning for Auburn, to compete with Kentucky and Florida in the SEC, they’ll likely need some pro-level talent to enter the picture.

High school 2015 forwards Danjel Purifoy, Horace Spencer and junior college wing T.J. Dunans are good recruits for Pearl, but he has a long way to go before winning games on the floor at Auburn.

But he’s winning recruiting battles and that’s a great start.

Texas guard Admon Gilder cuts his list

During the summer, Texas guard Admon Gilder was one of my favorite players to watch on the grassroots circuit.

The 6-foot-3 guard from Dallas was tough on the defensive end and played well in the open floor during the month of July and now he’s down to six schools.

While in-state programs like Baylor, SMU, Texas and Texas A&M are in the picture, Gilder is also considering Kansas State and Oklahoma State.

Gilder is currently considered the No. 62 prospect in Rivals’ rankings.

Matisse Thybulle down to four schools

As an emerging wing player from the Pacific Northwest, Class of 2015 6-foot-6 Matisse Thybulle drew the interest of high-major programs from the west during the month of July.

A native of Seattle, Thybulle is now down to Cal, Gonzaga, Oregon and Washington, according to Scout.com’s Kim Grinolds.

Currently a three-star player, according to Rivals, Thybulle had a good July with Northwest XPress and has vaulted into some top-100 rankings.

In his first day of recruiting, Bruce Pearl lands Auburn a four-star forward

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In the first day he was allowed to recruit following a three-year NCAA show-cause, Bruce Pearl made quick work on the recruiting trail on Sunday as the new Tigers head coach landed four-star forward Horace Spencer. The news of Spencer’s commitment was first reported by Adam Zagoria of Zags Blog.

Pearl met with Spencer at 12:01 a.m. on Sunday morning, right as the Auburn coach’s penalty that forced him to not call recruits, coaches or parents was lifted. Spencer was on an official visit to Auburn and a lot of credit is certainly due to Auburn’s assistant coaches, who helped Pearl recruit when he couldn’t make contact with players.

The 6-foot-8 Spencer attends basketball powerhouse Findlay Prep and is a major grab for Auburn. The No. 73 prospect in the 2015 class, according to Rivals, is a good athlete with a high-running motor who should fit in well with Pearl’s system.

The commitment of Spencer gives Auburn two four-star commitments on the week as four-star wing forward Danjel Purifoy committed on Friday.

July Live Period Week One Superlatives

Jaylen Brown and Brandon Ingram remain two of eight uncommitted All-Americans (adidas)
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The first July Live Period came to an end on Sunday. We have writers at each of the three major events during the week, with Scott Phillips covering adidas Unrivaled, Raphielle Johnson covering the LeBron Camp and Rob Dauster at Reebok Breakout and The Showdown. Here are our week one superlatives:

PLAYER OF THE WEEK:

  • Ben Simmons: “Simmons has the ability to take advantage of mismatches on the offensive end of the floor due to his versatile skill set. Defend him with a smaller, quicker player and he can go into the paint to score. Use a bigger, slower man and he can perform well out on the perimeter. And his defensive ability was solid as well throughout the week in Las Vegas.”- Rapheille Johnson
  • Brandon Ingram: “The five-star prospect from North Carolina scored the ball in a number of ways and played with more confidence and physicality than in the past. He went right at the top small forward in the country, Jaylen Brown, and showed no fear.” – Scott Phillips
  • Dwayne Bacon: “There aren’t many players in the Class of 2015 that can get buckets the way that Dwayne Bacon can get buckets. The 6-foot-6, five-star wing capped off his week with a 43-point performance over a team that includes Arizona-commit Justin Simon.” – RD

PLAYER THAT LEFT US WANTING MORE:

  • Diamond Stone: “To be fair, this is not entirely Stone’s fault. He got sick during the first half of his first game at the camp. But for a guy that is ranked as the No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2015 by some outlets, I was disappointed that he only dominated at Reebok Camp for roughly eight minutes.” – RD
  • Carlton Bragg: “When you see how talented Bragg is, you just want him to stop taking the terrible shots and silly plays that occasionally plague his game. When Bragg hits his first jumper it can be a good or bad thing because Bragg either gets hot or starts settling. He has some horrific misses for a top-15 player.” – SP
  • Stephen Zimmerman: “I’ll preface this by stating that it can be easy for big men who don’t get the ball as often as they’d like to get frustrated in camp setting, drifting out onto the perimeter as a result. But even with Zimmerman’s ability to step out onto the perimeter at times, it was almost as if he was negating one of his biggest advantages (his height) over other big men. Maybe he’ll bounce back playing with more familiar teammates when the Oakland Soldiers take part in the Peach Jam.” – RJ

BEST PROSPECT:

  • Chase Jeter: “No disrespect to Jaylen Brown –another fantastic prospect — but Jeter continues to grow into a really good post prospect with a go-to move in his right hook. Jeter’s post defense and rebounding has started to improve throughout this year, as well.” – SP
  • Skal Labissiere: “Stone is probably the best prospect, per se, but I think Labissiere actually has a higher ceiling than Stone. The 6-foot-11 Haitian has huge hands, long arms, range to 19 feet and a soft touch on a righty jump hook. It’s a valuable skill to be able to dunk anything and everything around the rim. But I’ve yet to see him dominate comparable competition.” – RD
  • Ben Simmons: “Hard to pick anyone else for this spot, although there were other quality performers in Las Vegas. Ivan Rabb, Henry Ellenson, Jayson Tatum and 2017 guard Troy Brown all had their moments. But the pick here is Simmons.” – RJ

MOST UNDERRATED PROSPECT:

  • Horace Spencer: “I couldn’t love Horace Spencer’s game anymore than I do. He’s big, he’s athletic, he rebounds, he defends, he plays hard, he runs the floor, and he knocked down a couple jumpers this week. He’ll produce wherever he ends up.” – RD
  • Deng Adel: “When you consider Adel, now a Louisville commit, has been playing basketball in America for only a year, it becomes even more impressive to see the things he’s doing. He’s a high-motor, do-it-all wing with really good athleticism.” – SP
  • Aaron Falzon: “Listed as 6-foot-8, 214 at the camp, Falzon has the size of a player some programs would look to pigeonhole into the four spot. But his shooting ability from anywhere on the floor makes him a “mismatch” possibility at the college level. There was even talk at the camp of him being the best shooter in the class.” – RJ

SLEEPER OUTSIDE THE RIVALS TOP 150:

  • Grant Riller: “Loved what I saw from the 6-foot-2 guard from Orlando. He beat people off the dribble to the rim, hit a couple threes, split the defense on ball-screens and dunked all over one of the best athletes in the class of 2015, Chris Silva. Abilene Christian and Kennesaw State are his only offers right now.” – RD
  • Riley Welch: “A 2016 point guard from Colorado, Welch is the son of Brooklyn Nets assistant coach John Welch and was one of the adidas camp’s leaders in assists. With only interest from San Jose State and Denver, he’s being under-recruited and should have more teams calling soon.” – SP

Seven Takeaways from Breakout Classic, The Showdown

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The first of July’s three live periods ended at 5:00 p.m. Sunday. Each of our writers were at an event last week, and each will be giving you seven takeaways from those events. 

PHILADELPHIA — Philadelphia University was home to a pair of high-level events during the first July live period, with Reebok hosting the Breakout Classic, a camp featuring more than 100 of the best high school players in the country, being followed by The Showdown, an invitational tournament held by Elevate Hoops.

Here are seven thoughts on the action from the City of Brotherly Love:

1. Playing hard will get you noticed: It seems obvious, doesn’t it? But it bears repeating, over and over again. The best example of this may be Horace Spencer, a top 75 recruit from Philly that spent much of his junior season riding the pine for Findlay Prep. A lot of people are going to brand Spencer a breakout player from the first week of July because he had a couple of big games. What they won’t realize is that he had those big games because his motor never stopped running. He got easy dunks because he beat people down the floor and worked for offensive rebounds. He kept his team in games because he blocked shots and went after loose balls and defensive rebounds like he was playing in the Final Four.

MOREAll our content from the 2014 July Live Recruiting Period

Another example is Nate Morris, a top 75 big man in the class of 2016. Morris was on the receiving end of one of the nastiest dunks from the Breakout Classic, but that didn’t stop him from challenging everything shot the rim. Getting posterized comes with the territory for shot blockers. The high major head coach I was sitting with at the time was much more impressed with Morris challenging shots at the rim on two of the next three possessions than he was with the player that dunked on Morris.

2. Jawun Evans is staking his claim for best point guard in his class: People that read this site or that follow me on twitter will be familiar with Evans because I’ve become infatuated with the No. 32 recruit in the class of 2015. He’s not built in the mold of guys like Russell Westbrook and John Wall; he’s 6-foot on a good day and his athleticism manifests more in his quickness than it does vertical explosiveness. But he’s a rock-solid ball-handler that always makes the right decision, he’s a playmaker off the bounce and he’s a pest defensively. John Groce of Illinois and Rick Barnes of Texas were among the head coaches that make their way to Philly to get a glimpse of the Kimball, Texas, native.

3. None of the three elite big men in Philly were dominant: There were three elite class of 2015 big men in Philly this week — No. 6 Diamond Stone, No. 11 Elijah Thomas and No. 14 Skal Labissiere — and none of the three were overly impressive. Stone looked great early on against Labissiere in the marquee matchup of the first day of the Breakout Classic, but a combination of stomach issues and struggles against the strength of Thomas made it tough for him to shine. Thomas is immovable when he establishes position on the block, but he lack of vertical explosiveness hindered him against some of the more athletic players at the camp. Labissiere has the length and athleticism — and soft touch — to be an elite player down the road, but the only time he looked dominant was when he played against a team from Richmond during The Showdown that didn’t have anyone over 6-foot-6 on their front line.

RELATED: Seven takeaways from the LeBron James Skills Academy

4. Dwayne Bacon continues to impress with his ability to score: You’d be hard-pressed to find a player in the class of 2015 that has continually impressed as much as Dwayne Bacon has. Bacon, who is headed to Oak Hill for his senior season, might be the best wing-scorer in the class. He had an excellent three days during the Breakout Class and capped off his week with a 43-point performance against Justin Simon and Gamepoint on Sunday during The Showdown. He’s a smooth, 6-foot-6 scorer that can get to the rim in the half court and is deadly when he gets into a rhythm shooting the ball.

5. P.J. Dozier is a player to keep an eye on in 2015: Dozier is coming off of knee surgery that cost him his junior season, but he returned this spring and has put together a very strong performance thus far in the most important summer of his career to date. Dozier has sprouted to 6-foot-6, and given his upbringing as a point guard, this has made him one of the more unique talents in the class of 2015. He’s an elite-level passer, although he can be turnover prone at times while trying to create a Sportscenter-worthy assist, and he has three-point range with time and space. It will be interesting to see what position he ends up playing at the next level. Is he a full-time point guard? Is he a playmaker on the wing? What positions can he guard in college? I can see him playing a role similar to that of Nik Stauskas or Grant Gibbs wherever he ends up going.

6. Derryck Thornton is the real deal: This week was my first glimpse at Thornton, a five-star point guard in the class of 2016 that plays his high school ball for Findlay Prep. He stole the show on Wednesday night, when Breakout Classic organizers orchestrated a matchup between Diamond Stone and Skal Labissiere to kick off the live period, and his play never dwindled throughout his three days at the camp. His ability to get into the paint and keep his dribble alive until he can find space for a shot or an open teammate is reminiscent of one of the NBA point guards that he said he watches a lot of tape on: Chris Paul.

7. When will Derrick Jones make the leap?: Derrick Jones has long been a favorite of the guys that make the youtube mixtapes, as the 6-foot-8 small forward might be the best athlete in the class of 2015. But in order for Jones to make the jump from being a scintillating athlete to becoming an elite college basketball prospect, he needs to do three things: add strength and size to his frame, improve his ability to handle the ball and become a better jump shooter. He showed some glimpses of that during the week in Philly, but he still has a way to go.

CBT Quotables Part II: P.J. Dozier, Payton Pritchard, Horace Spencer

Payton Pritchard (Kelly Kline/Under Armour)
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Payton Pritchard (Kelly Kline/Under Armour)

Over the course of July’s live recruiting period, we at College Basketball Talk will be posting anonymous quotes from coaches about the prospects that they are watching and recruiting. With coverage from the LeBron James Skills Academy, Reebok Breakout Classic and Adidas Unrivaled, we had people at the three biggest events of the week. 

Here’s what the coaches had to say, with quotes cobbled together from a handful of conversations we had:

MORE: Quotables Part IAll our content from the 2014 July Live Recruiting Period

CG P.J. Dozier, No. 40 Class of 2015: “Dozier is a GREAT passer. Maybe the smoothest player in the class, so smooth that it’s sometimes hard to tell just how hard he is playing. How healthy is his knee (he had surgery to repair a torn ACL in September)? What position will be play and defend in college?”

PG Payton Pritchard, No. 34 Class of 2016: “Payton Pritchard is a tough, little dude, but I wonder how much his game can grow from here? Still, he hits shots and can get other guys the ball. That’s a necessary combo for a guard in any program.”

PF Horace Spencer, No. 73 Class of 2015: “Spencer’s athletic and he plays the game hard. You know he’s always going to rebound the ball, he’s going to protect the rim and he’s going to run the floor in transition. Look at those shoulders, he’s Thomas Robinson.”

SG Kyle Guy, Unranked Class of 2015: “I’m a fan of Kyle Guy. His body will improve and he has long arms and does so many things to help a team win games.”

SF Brandon Ingram, No. 25 Class of 2015: “Brandon Ingram is a stud. Scores the ball in so many different ways and really does a nice job using ball screens.”

C Kerry Blackshear, Unranked Class of 2015: “Blackshear’s got potential, but he’s got a way to go. He needs to add weight and strength to his frame. He doesn’t hold post position well and he seems off-balance too often. High hips and long legs give him a high center of gravity. Needs to grow into his body.”

The Showdown Saturday Recap: Horace Spencer’s big summer continues

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PHILADELPHIA — Horace Spencer’s game lacks a lot at this point in his development, but one thing the 6-foot-8 power forward, ranked No. 73 in the Class of 2015 by Rivals, has in abundance is energy.

In short: there may not be a front court prospect in the class that plays harder each and every time he steps on the court than Spencer does.

A Philly native that spent this past season playing for Findlay Prep out in Las Vegas, Spencer is cut from the same cloth as a guy like Ben Wallace. His broad shoulders and quick leaping ability help him make up for the fact that he is a bit undersized, and he takes pride in his ability to rebound the ball on both ends of the floor and protect the rim defensively.

On Saturday, at Elevate Hoops’ tournament in Philly called The Showdown, Spencer put on a show. Playing on a team that only had six players and didn’t have much in the way of Division I talent, he lit up the Showtime Ballers — who count Dwayne Bacon, Corey Sanders, Jeantal Cylla and Jean Marc Koumadje as members — to the tune of 28 points, controlling the paint on both ends of the floor. While the majority of those buckets came off of effort plays — offensive rebounds, cuts to the rim, picking up loose balls, beating defenders down the floor in transition — he also knocked down three jumpers in the 17-19 foot range and had a handful of nice moves on the block, some he finished and some he didn’t.

In other words, the guy known as a player that brings athleticism and effort to the table showed off a little of skill, proof he is continuing to develop as a player. “Improving my offensive game, like my jump shot and my ballhandling,” Spencer said when asked about what he’s been working on.

MOREAll our content from the 2014 July Live Recruiting Period

That performance came on the heels of a good showing at the NBPA Top 100 camp and an excellent three days at Reebok’s Breakout Classic, which has made Spencer one of the hotter prospects in the class.

Spencer listed offers from Seton Hall, West Virginia, USC, Cincinnati, La Salle, Georgia, Maryland and Oregon State at the beginning of the week, but has reportedly received offers from South Florida and Oklahoma State since then. Expect to see that list grow as well, as Spencer’s best performances of the summer came with faces like Leonard Hamilton and John Thompson III, as well as a large number of high major assistants, in the crowd.

Skal Labissiere finally looks dominant: Skal Labissiere is a top 15 recruit in the Class of 2015, but the slender, 6-foot-11 center missed this high school season with a stress fracture in his back. On Saturday, Skal finally looked like an elite-level big man with a dominating first half performance against the Richmond Squires. He had a huge dunk in traffic, knocked down a couple of jumpers, made quick moves in the post and made a handful of nice passes, include a touch-pass from the high-post for a layup.

Here’s the issue: the Squires didn’t have a single front court player over 6-foot-7. Labissiere’s potential is through the roof. He’s got a massive wingspan and huge hands, he’s got ball skills that many bigs at this level don’t and he’s got a go-to move on the block — a righty jump-hook — that is really effective. I’d feel more confident in his future if he dominated a similar caliber of competition as well.

It’s time to get a look at Grant Riller: The most eye-opening performance on Saturday came from a kid that’s a bit of an afterthought on his own AAU team, the Q6 all-stars. Coaches were lined up to see Kerry Blackshear and Matt Milon, but what they got was Riller showing out during the second half of an upset win over Sports U. In a five minute stretch during the second half, Riller scored on two tough drives through a set defense, split the defenders on a high-ball screen before setting up a teammate for an open three, drilled a deep three from the top of the key and threw down the dunk of the day on hyper-athletic, 6-foot-8 Chris Silva.

Should I mention that Riller is listed at 6-foot-3, a height that apparently takes his (large) half-fro into consideration?

Riller, who calls himself a combo-guard, plays his high school ball at Ocoee HS in Orlando. The only offers that he listed were from Abilene Christian and Kennesaw State, but he said that Virginia Tech, Mercer, Florida-Gulf Coast, College of Charleston, North Florida and FIU have been checking up on him.