verbal commitments

Donnie Jones

2015 guard Corey Sanders verbally commits to attend UCF (VIDEO)

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The 2015-16 season is well off in the distance, meaning that things can change, but the last two days have been very good for the UCF basketball program on the recruiting trail.

One day after landing a verbal commitment from 6-8 power forward Alex Owens, UCF received one from 6-2 guard Corey Sanders Wednesday afternoon. Sanders, who attends IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., made his decision official via his Twitter account.

Sanders attended McKeel Academy in Lakeland, Fla. last season, with his decision to transfer to IMG influenced in part by the decision of McKeel teammate and fellow 2015 prospect Dwayne Bacon to make the same move. McKeel reached the regional semifinals of the Class 3A Florida state tournament last season.

Sanders’ decision to commit to UCF is an important one for head coach Donnie Jones, who will lost Calvin Newell at the conclusion of the 2013-14 season with Daiquan Walker and Matt Williams on track to be seniors when 2015 rolls around. But with there only being so much depth chart studying that can be done in regards to a verbal commit who won’t be on campus for another two seasons, the aspect that will have UCF fans excited about the news is that they’ve added Top 100 players on consecutive days.

Has the move to the American Athletic Conference boosted UCF’s profile when it comes to recruiting some of the most talented players in the state of Florida? While the majority of the programs in the conference were in Conference USA with UCF, it doesn’t hurt to be able to sell the fact that the Knights share a conference with storied programs such as UConn and Cincinnati (as well as Memphis).

Adding Sanders to the fold certainly helps UCF as it looks to develop into a contender in the American. Below are a few highlights of the athletic Sanders in action.

2014 forward/center David Wacker becomes Boise State’s second commitment

Leon Rice
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After landing their first verbal commitment in the 2014 class last weekend (shooting guard Chandler Hutchison), Boise State landed a second verbal commitment as 6-9 forward/center David Wacker announced his decision on Sunday. The news was first reported by Robin Washut of

Wacker, a native of Converse, Texas, attends Judson High School where plays for his father Mike, who played at the University of Texas before a knee injury derailed his hopes of playing professionally. The younger Wacker made his official visit to Boise State last weekend, and his reported commitment comes less than a week before his originally scheduled visit to Western Kentucky. WKU head coach Ray Harper and the elder Wacker were college teammates at Texas.

Judson finished the 2012-13 season with a 29-8 record, reaching the third round of the Class 5A Texas state basketball tournament. David Wacker averaged 11.7 points, 9.8 rebounds and 2.7 blocked shots per game in his junior campaign. In 2014 Wacker will join a Boise State program that loses just one front court contributor in Ryan Watkins, who averaged 8.4 points and a team-best 6.8 rebounds per game in 2012-13.

Boise State added two front court prospects this offseason in junior college transfer James Webb III (sophomore) and freshman Nick Duncan. The Broncos also add redshirt freshman Joey Nebeker, who was Idaho’s Gatorade Player of the Year in 2012 after posting averages of 22.8 points and 9.9 rebounds per game as a high school senior. Even with the eventual loss of Watkins head coach Leon Rice will have options in the front court, and Wacker’s commitment gives him one more option from which to choose when 2014 rolls around.

Report: Vanderbilt lands commitment from 2014 SG Matthew Fisher-Davis

Kevin Stallings
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With Kyle Fuller entering his senior season and leading scorer Kedren Johnson suspended for the entire 2013-14 season, Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings needed some reinforcements on the perimeter. Earlier this summer the Commodores received a verbal commitment from shooting guard Wade Baldwin, and late Sunday evening it was reported by Evan Daniels of that Charlotte, N.C. shooting guard Matthew Fisher-Davis has verbally committed to the SEC school (subscription required).

The 6-5 Fisher-Davis, who attends Charlotte Christian, is highly regarded as a perimeter shooter and his recruitment gained momentum back in July. In addition to Vanderbilt, Fisher-Davis considered programs such as Georgia, Wake Forest and Virginia before making the decision to commit according to Jamie Shaw of the Phenom Hoop Report. Fisher-Davis took an official visit to Vanderbilt in late August, with Baldwin also taking an official to the SEC school that weekend.

Last season was a tough one for the Commodores, as key personnel losses from a team that won the SEC tournament in 2012 proved to be too much to overcome. Johnson’s 13.5 points per game are gone (as is leading rebounder Kevin Bright, who signed a professional contract to play in his native Germany), leaving forward Rod Odom (10.4 ppg, 4.5 rpg) and Fuller (8.7, 2.3) as the team’s leading returnees from a statistical standpoint.

And with both players being seniors, the development of guards Eric McClellan and Dai-Jon Parker becomes an important aspect of the 2013-14 campaign. Both McClellan and Parker will have eligibility remaining in 2014, as will forwards Shelby Moats, Damian Jones and Luke Kornet with the latter two being freshmen.

Here are a few highlights from Fisher-Davis’ junior season at Charlotte Christian, where he averaged 17.2 points per contest.

Odessa JC PG Josh Gray verbally commits to attend Florida State

Chris Walker, Josh Gray
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While much of the coverage on recruiting tends to focus on players making the move from high school to the college level, the junior college ranks can prove to be quite fruitful for a program. Such has been the case for Florida State over the last week, as the Seminoles have added two highly-regarded players who are currently in junior college.

Just a few days after 6-7 power forward Cimmeon Bowers verbally committed to attend Florida State, Odessa JC PG Josh Gray announced his decision while on an official visit to the ACC school. Gray made his decision public via his Twitter account Saturday afternoon.

Gray spent his freshman season at Texas Tech, where he averaged 9.3 points and 3.2 assists per game on a team that struggled due in large part to a lack of stability at the top of the program. Billy Gillispie was fired before the season began, with the school handing the reins over to associate head coach Chris Walker. With the school hiring Tubby Smith in the spring, Gray made the decision to get a fresh start at Odessa.

Gray mentioned program stability as an important factor in his decision-making process while at the All-American JUCO Showcase in Las Vegas in late-July.

“[Familiarity] plays a big part because I’m looking for a good relationship, and I’m looking for a coach who’s going to be there because every coach I’ve signed with left,” Gray said in July. “I signed with Mississippi State: Coach Stansbury left. [At Texas Tech] Coach Gillispie left and Coach Walker left, so I’m looking for a school where the coach is going to be there.”

Gray was already a popular recruit, with programs such as Arizona State and Memphis keeping tabs on him during that weekend in Las Vegas. And in recent days both Michigan and UCLA offered scholarships to the 6-1 guard.

With Florida State head coach Leonard Hamilton entering his 12th season in Tallahassee, one would think that there’s a good chance he’ll still be there when Gray arrives in 2014. Gray’s addition is a big one for Florida State, as his addition will give the Seminoles  another player with experience at the Division I level. With Ian Miller (5.3 ppg, 1.9 apg) entering his senior season Florida State needed another perimeter player in its 2014 recruiting class, and landing Gray is definitely a positive.

In addition to Gray the Seminoles will return three guards in 2014, none of whom managed to stand out in 2012-13. Devon Bookert (6.5 ppg, 2.4 apg) was the most productive of the three, with Aaron Thomas (6.0 ppg) and Montay Brandon (3.9 ppg) also seeing double-digit minutes on a team that finished last season with an overall record of 18-16 (9-9 ACC).

Similar to Bowers, not only does Gray add depth but he also adds productivity. Those two join 6-7 small forward Mavin Sanders in Florida State’s 2014 recruiting haul, and the hope is that this group is capable of helping the Seminoles get back to the level of play that led to them winning the ACC tournament in 2012.

2014 combo guard JaQuan Lyle de-commits from Louisville
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In late June the Louisville recruiting haul for 2014 received a nice boost in the form of 6-5 combo guard JaQuan Lyle, who is regarded as a Top 25 prospect by most major scouting services. However that move triggered the domino that was Quentin Snider de-committing from his hometown school in July, and on Thursday Snider wrapped up his recruitment by committing to Illinois.

And late Friday night it was reported by multiple outlets that Lyle has de-committed from Louisville. Lyle would eventually confirm the news via his Twitter account.

This is certainly an interesting turn of events when looking at the 2014 class as a whole, especially when considering the fact that Lyle made his decision without taking any of the five official visits he’s allowed per NCAA rules. Who gets those visits? He has a solid list of schools that were interested in his services before making the decision to commit to Louisville, but what those schools have done thus far on the recruiting trail will certainly have an impact on who’s still interested.

After attending Bosse High School in Evansville, Ind. the last three years Lyle will be playing at Huntington Prep this season, a program that has turned into one of the top prep schools in the country. Lyle averaged 27 points, 13.4 rebounds and 6.8 assists per game last season, and he left Bosse ranked 8th on the city’s all-time scoring list (1,440 points). How much of an impact will playing at Huntington Prep have on Lyle’s recruitment? That ultimately comes down to how well he plays.

As for Louisville, the Cardinals are down to two commitments in the 2014 class (forwards Shaqquan Aaron and Jaylen Johnson), and the absence of a guard in that projected haul could mean that Rick Pitino and his staff look to grab a guard. After the 2013-14 season, the Cardinals lose the valuable Russ Smith and Luke Hancock from their perimeter rotation. Perimeter players who will have eligibility remaining in 2014 are junior college transfer Chris Jones, juniors Wayne Blackshear and Kevin Ware, and freshmen Anton Gill and Terry Rozier, so the Cardinals won’t lack for options if they don’t add a guard in this class.

2014 point guard Tyler Ulis verbally commits to attend Kentucky

SEC Basketball Tournament - Quarterfinals - Vanderbilt v Kentucky

Another top point guard in the 2014 class is off the board, as Marian Catholic (Ill.) product Tyler Ulis announced Friday evening that he will be attending the University of Kentucky. The 5-8 Ulis picked the Wildcats over Michigan State and Iowa, leaving the two Big Ten programs to seek other options at the position. He becomes Kentucky’s second verbal commitment in the 2014 class, joining versatile 7-footer Karl Towns Jr.

Even though Kentucky is still in contention for the services of Tyus Jones (most experts seem to believe he’s headed to Duke), Ulis’ decision to verbally commit to Kentucky is an important development for head coach John Calipari. Anything can happen in sports but the general consensus is that freshmen Andrew and Aaron Harrison will be first round picks in next June’s NBA Draft. Add to this the fact that Jarrod Polson is entering his senior season and it’s clear that UK needed some depth at the point guard position.

Enter Ulis, who isn’t considered to be a “one and done” prospect by scouts but is more than capable of running the show for coach Calipari. As a junior Ulis averaged 22 points, 4.8 assists, 3.6 rebounds and 2.8 steals per game on a team that won 29 games and its first-ever sectional title in 2012-13. He may not be the point guard fans have grown accustomed to seeing Calipari work with in regards to his size, but Ulis is a player Kentucky needed to land given the depth situation they could face in 2014.

As for Iowa and Michigan State, what next? Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery has options at the position, with Anthony Clemmons and Mike Gesell both being sophomores this season. As for Michigan State, the Spartans have Lourawls Nairn on campus this weekend and Ulis’ decision to commit to Kentucky makes the chase for Nairn even more important.

Michigan State loses Keith Appling at the end of the 2013-14 season, leaving them with Travis Trice and Denzel Valentine (despite being 6-5, Valentine did play some point in high school) as possible options at the position next season. Just as Kentucky needed to improve its depth at the position leading into Ulis’ commitment the same goes for Michigan State.