Semaj Christon and Grant Jerrett headline this year’s biggest risers

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See the rest of our posts on the Consensus 2012 Recruiting Rankings here.

I know what the numbers say, but calling Jakarr Sampson the biggest riser in the Class of 2012 is a bit disingenuous.

Players reclassifying is not a new phenomenon. Aaron Thomas, who checks in at second on the list of biggest risers in our Consensus Recruiting Rankings, was also originally in the Class of 2011. But Sampson didn’t voluntarily reclassify like Thomas did. He was forced to return to Brewster Academy for a prep year because he — along with Norvel Pelle and Amir Garrett — was ruled academically ineligible by the NCAA.

Sampson wasn’t in the Class of 2012 rankings last July because he wasn’t in the Class of 2012. That change isn’t the result of an improvement in his game.

The same can be said for Steven Adams.

The future Pitt Panther as been widely regarded as a potential lottery pick in the 2013 NBA draft for quite a while, but he only came to the United States in January of this year. The uncertainty surrounding his enrollment at Notre Dame Prep led to some outlets keeping out of their rankings last July, while the ones that did rank him had him in the top ten. So while the numbers may say that Adams has made an unbelievable improvement over the course of the school year, the fact of the matter is that his adjustment to American basketball hasn’t been ideal.

Here is a breakdown of the Class of 2012’s 26 highest risers (and to see the rest of the Consensus Class of 2012 Rankings, click here):

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Not everyone on this list is the benefactor of fluky numbers.

Take Semaj Christon as an example. He’s the perfect example of the benefit of exposure.

Christon, a point guard that ranks 47th in our Consensus Rankings (and who would rank much higher if ESPN’s Dave Telep ranked prep players), is a fifth-year player at Brewster Academy. He spent his high school years playing in Cincinnati and traveling the AAU circuit with the Cincinnati Knights, which isn’t a big time program. Combined with the fact that he was a bit of a late-bloomer, and Christon’s ranking suffered from the fact that he simply hadn’t been seen by the right people.

That wasn’t the case at Brewster.

“When he played at Brewster, he was surrounded by a ton of talent and people saw him play all the time,” CBSSports.com’s recruiting analyst Jeff Borzello said. “It was just clear how good he really was. We saw him consistently play really, really well against really good competition. I think that helped him. And it’s a weak point guard class, and when you compare him to other guys in the class, he deserved the higher ranking.”

That’s the key to earning a high-ranking. Playing your best against the best competition in front of people that matter. Therein lies the value of the major AAU tournaments and high school events. It gets the best teams in the same place at the same time, which is a cheap way for talent evaluators to see a high-number of players.

The problem is that it’s not possible for every elite talent to get to all — or any — or these events.

“I want to see these kids as much as I can,” Scout.com’s Evan Daviels said. “If I have it my way, I’ll get to watch the kid over a long period of time. There are certain kids I’ve seen since they were freshmen. I mean, that’s how I prefer. To wtch their development over the course of their four years. Unfortunately, there are kids that aren’t at the big camps and you don’t get to see a ton and you may only get to see once or twice.”

There is a downside to the kids that make their way to each and every high-profile event.

“The first few times you see a kid, you try to find his strengths,” Borzello said. “But as you see them more and more, you try and pick their game apart. … You don’t want to oversaturate yourself where you start focusing on weaknesses.”

And, according to Borzello, that’s a problem that Grant Jerrett ran into. He had a presence on the summer circuit, and  evaluators started to pick apart his game more and more. Instead of focusing on what he can do, they were nitpicking at the things he couldn’t do.

But Jerrett, who climbed 19 spots to ninth in the final Consensus Rankings, simply kept playing and kept playing well.

“This year, you saw what he does well, and he does a lot of things really well,” Borzello said. “He played well in big tournaments. When you play great against another really good opponent in front of 10 or 15 ranking sites, people are going to remember that more than the way he played last July.”

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

Bubbles brewing with season on horizon

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INDIANAPOLIS — With the coronavirus pandemic already forcing changes for college basketball, a bubble may be brewing in Indianapolis.

Indiana Sports Corp. released a 16-page proposal Friday that calls for turning the city convention center’s exhibition halls and meeting rooms into basketball courts and locker rooms. There would be expansive safety measures and daily COVID-19 testing.

The all-inclusive price starts at $90,000 per team and would cover 20 hotel rooms per traveling party, testing, daily food vouchers ranging from $30-$50 and the cost of game officials. Sports Corp. President Ryan Vaughn said the price depends on what offerings teams or leagues choose.

“The interest has been high,” Vaughn said. “I think as conferences figure out what conference and non-conference schedules are going to look like, we’re we’re a very good option for folks. I would tell you we’ve had conversations with the power six conferences, mid-majors, it’s really kind of all over the Division I spectrum.”

Small wonder: The NCAA this week announced teams could start ramping up workouts Monday, with preseason practices set to begin Oct. 14. Season openers, however, were pushed back to Nov. 25 amid wide-ranging uncertainty about campus safety and team travel in the pandemic.

There is already scrambling going on and some of the marquee early-season tournaments have already been impacted.

The Maui Invitational will be moved from Hawaii to Asheville, North Carolina, with dates still to be determined and organizers clear that everyone involved “will be in a bubble environment that limits their movement and interaction outside the venue.” The Batttle 4 Atlantis has been canceled. The Cancun Challenge will be held in Melbourne, Florida, not Mexico.

More changes almost certainly will be coming, including what to do with the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.

“I think we’re past the guesswork on whether we play 20 conference games or more than that,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said Friday. “We’re trying to get everybody set like in terms of MTEs (multi-team events), figuring out when to play the ACC-Big Ten challenge.”

Painter, who was part of the NCAA committee that recommended how to start the season, noted part of the uncertainty stems from differing protocols imposed by campus, city and state officials.

In Indianapolis, Vaughn believes the convention center, nearby hotels, restaurants and downtown businesses, many within walking distance of the venue, could safely accommodate up to 24 teams. The 745,000-square foot facility would feature six basketball courts and two competition courts.

Anyone entering the convention center would undergo saliva-based rapid response testing, which would be sent to a third-party lab for results. Others venues could be added, too, potentially with more fans, if the case numbers decline.

If there is a taker, the event also could serve as a dry run for the 2021 Final Four, also slated for Indy.

“It’s not going to hurt,” Vaughn said. “I can tell you all the planning we’re doing right now is the same for a Final Four that’s been scheduled here for any other year. But it would be nice to have this experience under our belt to see if it can be done.”

Maui Invitational moving to North Carolina during pandemic

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ASHEVILLE, N.C. — The Maui Invitational is moving to the mainland during the coronavirus pandemic.

One of the premier preseason tournaments on the college basketball schedule, the Maui Invitational will be played at the Harrah’s Cherokee Center in downtown Asheville, North Carolina.

Dates for the tournament announced Friday have yet to be finalized. The NCAA announced Wednesday that the college basketball season will begin Nov. 25.

This year’s Maui Invitational field includes Alabama, Davidson, Indiana, North Carolina, Providence, Stanford, Texas and UNLV.

All teams, staff, officials, and personnel will be in a bubble environment that limits their movement and interaction outside the venue.

Burton eligible at Texas Tech after 2 seasons at Wichita State

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LUBBOCK, Texas — Junior guard Jamarius Burton has been granted a waiver from the NCAA that makes him eligible to play this season for Texas Tech after starting 52 games the past two seasons for Wichita State.

Texas Tech coach Chris Beard announced the waiver Thursday, which came five months after Burton signed with the Big 12 team.

Burton has two seasons of eligibility remaining, as well as a redshirt season he could utilize. He averaged 10.3 points and 3.4 assists per game as a sophomore at Wichita State, where he played 67 games overall.

Burton is from Charlotte. He helped lead Independence High School to a 31-1 record and the North Carolina Class 4A state championship as a senior there.

NCAA season set to open day before Thanksgiving

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The NCAA men’s and women’s basketball season will begin on Nov. 25, the day before Thanksgiving.

The Division I Council voted Wednesday to push the start date back from the originally scheduled Nov. 10 as one of several precautions against the spread of coronavirus.

The later start date coincides with the decision most schools made to send students home from Thanksgiving until January out of concern about a potential late-fall and early-winter flareup of COVID-19. Closed campuses could serve as a quasi bubble for players and provide a window for non-conference games.

The maximum number of regular-season games has been reduced from 31 to 27. The minimum number of games for consideration for the NCAA Tournament was cut from 25 to 13.

Teams can start preseason practices Oct. 14 but will be allowed to work out 12 hours per week beginning Monday.

No scrimmages against other teams or exhibitions are allowed.

In other action, the council voted to extend the recruiting dead period for all sports through Dec. 31. In-person recruiting is not allowed during a dead period, though phone calls and other correspondence are allowed.

The men’s and women’s basketball oversight committees had jointly recommended a start date of Nov. 21, which would have allowed for games to be played on the weekend before Thanksgiving. The council opted not to do that to avoid a conflict with regular-season football games.

The council is scheduled to meet again Oct. 13-14 and could delay the start date and change other pieces of the basketball framework if circumstances surrounding the virus warrant.

UConn’s Tyrese Martin granted waiver to play this season

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STORRS, Conn. — UConn swingman Tyrese Martin, who transferred from Rhode Island in April, has been granted a waiver that will allow him to play for the Huskies this season.

The 6-foot-6 junior averaged 12.8 points and 7.1 rebounds and started every game last season for URI, where he was recruited by current UConn coach Dan Hurley.

NCAA rules require undergraduate transfers to sit out a season, but the organization has been more lenient in granting waivers during the pandemic.

Martin, 21, is expected to compete for playing time at UConn on the wing as both a guard and small forward.