Duke lands four-star 2019 guard Boogie Ellis

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Duke picked up a commitment late Friday night as Class of 2019 four-star shooting guard Boogie Ellis pledged to the Blue Devils.

Although the San Diego native is not the typical five-star recruit commonly associated with Duke recruiting over the last several seasons, he is a valuable addition to the Blue Devil Class of 2019 recruiting haul. The 6-foot-2 Ellis became a national recruit this summer heading into fall thanks to his shot-making ability and knack for making clutch plays. Regarded as the No. 41 overall prospect in the Rivals national Class of 2019 national rankings, Ellis should fit in well in Duke’s backcourt next season.

If point guard Tre Jones stays for his sophomore season, then he’ll have a quality complementary shooter in Ellis beside him and five-star wing Wendell Moore could also fit in at the three. Ellis averaged 17.2 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.1 steals per game in the Nike EYBL playing with the Oakland Soldiers this spring and summer. Perhaps most importantly, Ellis shot 46 percent from three-point range, meaning Duke’s floor-spacing will be greatly benefitted by his arrival.

Duke recruiting hasn’t been as dominant in this class as it has in the past few years. But that could quickly change in the coming weeks as the Blue Devils remain heavily involved with a number of top-ten prospects and five-star recruits.

Villanova lands pledge from five-star power forward

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Villanova landed its fourth verbal commitment in the Class of 2019 Tuesday evening, as it was reported by multiple outlets that five-star power forward Jeremiah Robinson-Earl will play for the reigning national champions. The 6-foot-9, 235-pound Robinson-Earl, a Kansas City native who’s finishing up his high school career at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, picked Villanova over Kansas.

Robinson-Earl joins fellow power forward Eric Dixon and guards Bryan Antoine and Justin Moore in Villanova’s 2019 class to date. In addition to Villanova, which he visited the weekend of September 12, and Kansas, Robinson-Earl took official visits to Arizona, North Carolina and Notre Dame.

While Villanova currently has just one front court senior on its roster, redshirt senior Eric Paschall, there was a need to add depth in the 2019 class. With the verbal pledges of Robinson-Earl and the aforementioned Dixon, who committed back in April, Villanova has managed to address that need.

Villanova’s newest commit is best known for his abilities around the basket, as he defends, rebounds and scores well in that area, but this move affords Robinson-Earl the opportunity to expand his game some. Most recently Omari Spellman was able to do this during his time at Villanova, ultimately being drafted by the Hawks in the first round of the 2018 NBA Draft.

Florida State lands four-star 2019 center

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Florida State continues to recruit high-level big men as the Seminoles landed a commitment from 7-foot-0 Class of 2019 center Balsa Koprivica on Friday night.

A four-star prospect who has been nationally-touted since his freshman season, Koprivica is regarded as the No. 67 overall prospect in the Rivals national Class of 2019 recruiting rankings. Koprivica represents an important commitment for the Seminoles since head coach Leonard Hamilton typically loves having 7-footers in his lineup.

Since Florida State didn’t recruit a 7-footer in 2018, and Ikey Obiagu has transferred since his Class of 2017 commitment, Koprivica is an important player for the Seminoles to develop. Given his experience and pedigree, Koprivica could be asked to play in Florida State’s rotation right away as he’s a skilled player near the basket who can rebound.

Koprivica joins a four-man Florida State class that includes four-star wing Patrick Williams and three-star forward Zimife Nowkeji.

One thing to monitor with Koprivica is to see if his name is brought up anymore in the college basketball corruption trial. During the first trial in New York over the past several weeks, Korprivica was one of the players mentioned during evidence. LSU head coach Will Wade spoke with convicted runner Christian Dawkins about Koprivica in a limited capacity in late 2017 in a phone call that was revealed in court.

While Koprivica’s name being mentioned in a phone call involving a convict is not something to be taken lightly, the conversation between Dawkins and Wade featured a lot of gray area. And now Koprivica ended up at Florida State instead of LSU, it’s hard to say if the NCAA will get significantly involved with any kind of investigation.

Arizona secures commitment from top-60 2019 wing

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Arizona landed another quality commitment on Wednesday night as Class of 2019 wing Terry Armstrong committed to the Wildcats.

The 6-foot-6 Armstrong is originally from Michigan, but he’s completing his prep career in Arizona this season at Bella Vista Prep. A lethal scorer with The Family in the Nike EYBL this spring, Armstrong was one of the top 10 scorers in the league as he put up 20.4 points per game on 49 percent shooting and 35 percent three-point range.

Armstrong is the third best commitment out of four for Arizona in the Class of 2019, as he joins the five-star backcourt of Nico Mannion and Josh Green along with three-star big man Christian Koloko.

Considering the position that Arizona was in as recently as this past March, and this has been a miraculous turnaround for head coach Sean Miller and his staff. Even though Arizona has been linked on multiple occasions to the FBI’s college basketball corruption scandal — with an upcoming trial that includes former assistant coach Book Richardson — they’re still bringing in high-quality commitments to Tucson for the future.

The perimeter trio of Mannion, Green and Armstrong has the potential to be a really strong class, especially when it comes to adding perimeter firepower. Arizona now finds itself back where it used to be in the recruiting landscape. They’re armed with multiple five-star commitments and a likely top-10 class.

The Wildcats also still have a chance to land one more quality big man as they’re in the mix for a number of quality forwards. If Arizona puts together a top-10 recruiting class composed of five players then it will be a minimal drop-off for a program that once faced a lot of adversity in keeping recruits.

It’s still a long time until this Class of 2019 group hits campus. But it’s a group worth thinking about when it comes to Arizona’s big-picture future.

 

Four-star 2019 forward flips commitment from Big Ten to SEC program

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Four-star 2019 forward Tray Jackson flipped his verbal commitment from Minnesota to Missouri on Friday night.

The 6-foot-8 forward announced his decommitment from the Golden Gophers on Twitter and then announced a commitment to Missouri a little more than two hours later. Regarded as the No. 96 overall prospect in the Class of 2019, Jackson reclassified from the Class of 2018 and saw his recruitment blossom in the summer.

While decommitting happens in basketball recruiting semi-frequently, flipping a commitment to a new school within a matter of hours is a very uncommon practice. Typically associated with football recruiting, Jackson’s switch is a big deal for Missouri.

His pledge gives head coach Cuonzo Martin an athletic and versatile frontcourt player with upside as Jackson could play multiple positions. The Tigers missed on E.J. Liddell, but Jackson is a nice prize to land instead. Missouri now has two four-star prospects in the Class of 2019 as Jackson joins four-star guard Mario McKinney.

Minnesota needs to replenish its recruiting efforts as they are now without a commitment in the Class of 2019. With head coach Richard Pitino facing pressure to win this season, this isn’t good for the future of Golden Gopher basketball either.

LSU’s Will Wade denies working with Christian Dawkins to secure 2019 recruit

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LSU head coach Will Wade took his time at SEC media day on Wednesday to declare his innocence after being linked to Christian Dawkins during the ongoing federal trial on corruption in college basketball in New York.

Wade’s name was brought up in court on Tuesday as lawyers for Adidas executive Jim Gatto tried to admit evidence that showed the LSU coach was prepared to offer benefits to land top-50 2019 big man Balsa Koprivica. The catch was that Dawkins had to get him to sign with the Tigers.

Attorney Casey Donnelly, representing Gatto, tried to introduce a wiretapped phone call between Wade and Dawkins. No date was provided from Donnelly, but court records show the FBI monitored one of Dawkins’ cellphones from June 19, 2007 through Sept. 15, 2017.

Donnelly read from a transcript that showed that Wade and Dawkins spoke about Koprivica. The context of the conversation is limited, however, and it has some gray area.

“So you said to me in Atlanta there was a 2019 kid I wanted to recruit, they can get him to LSU, you would have funded,” Dawkins told Wade on the call — according to Donnelly’s transcript. “Would you want Balsa?”

“Oh, the big kid?” Wade asked.

“Yeah,” Dawkins said.

“OK. But there’s other [expletive] involved in it,” Wade replied. “I have got to shut my door. … Here’s my thing: I can get you what you need, but it’s got to work.”

At SEC media day on Wednesday, Wade downplayed the comments, while only sticking to a prepared statement. After reading the statement, Wade refused to answer additional questions, while referring to the statement, when reporters tried to ask follow-up questions.

“It was a little bit surprising,” Wade said about the testimony at SEC media day. “I’m not really gonna react to what the defense attorney said. I will say I’m very proud of everything I’ve done as LSU’s head coach. … I or we have never, ever done business of any kind with Christian Dawkins. That’s what I’ll say about that.”

Wade and LSU are expected to have a promising 2018-19 season as sophomore point guard Tremont Waters is considered an All-American candidate. The team is also trying to overcome the loss of Wayde Sims, who was tragically killed when he was shot and killed in late September.

So to have Wade’s name mentioned in this trial is another subplot that the Tigers have to go through as the season approaches.

(h/t: Myron Medcalf, ESPN)