Elite 2013 forward Chris Walker commits to Florida, guarantees national championship

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In one of the more creative college commitments in recent years, Top 10 2013 forward Chris Walker pledged his name to Florida via a YouTube video posted to his Twitter page.

“I will be playing basketball at the University of Florida,” Walker says in the video. “I will be teaming up with my teammate from the AAU squad, Kasey Hill, and together we’ll be the best duo in college and will win a national championship.

“You heard it here first.”

The 6-10, 195-pound Walker is a native of Bonifay, Fla., located about an hour and a half from the state’s capital, Tallahassee.

Walker joins Hill, another Top 20 player, to make a strong recruiting class for Billy Donovan and the Gators. Commitments from these two Florida natives means Donovan is taking full advantage of the available recruits in his backyard in 2013.

Walker helps to balance out the guard-heavy 2012 recruiting class which is compromised of four guards, led by North Carolina native Braxton Ogbueze.

The Gators finished 26-11 last season, including 10-6 in the SEC. Last season’s star, guard Brad Beal, left for the NBA draft, leaving the Gators with a need to fill a gap of 14.6 points and 6.5 rebounds per game.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Breaking down the draft: Who should be the No. 2 pick?

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Over the next couple of days, each of our writers here at College Basketball Talk will weigh on certain topics and prospects. Yesterday’s question? Who will be the biggest bust in this year’s lotteryToday’s question? Who should be the No. 2 pick:

Eric Angevine: This is a very difficult decision. For me it comes down to a choice between MKG and Thomas Robinson. Both are absolutely ferocious in the paint and very athletic. Both can rebound. So I dig a little deeper in making my choice. Despite his bulk, Robinson handles the ball so easily – he was able to start the Jayhawk break by passing out of a defensive rebound, or really speeding things up by taking off downcourt on the dribble. His evolving midrange game and truly frightening upper-body development make him tough to pass up at the second spot. I wouldn’t.

Raphielle Johnson: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Bradley Beal would be a better offensive player for Charlotte, but regardless of who the Bobcats draft that team is going to stink for the foreseeable future. With the hiring of Mike Dunlap and their young roster patience seems to be the prevailing theme there, so they can afford to go with the guy who isn’t as refined offensively but seems to have more upside.

Daniel Martin: Considering his skill set, his ceiling may not be as high as some other prospects available with the second pick, but Michael Kidd-Gilchrist can make an impact and, most importantly, brings maturity to a team that was historically bad last season. The Bobcats don’t have the luxury of rolling the dice and taking a high-risk/high-reward player, which should rule out a player like Andre Drummond. Don’t be surprised if Charlotte goes with Thomas Robinson, another mature prospect.

Mike Miller: Brad Beal. He’s the most polished player among the lottery picks and would be an immediate starter in Charlotte. His poise, versatility and overall game would be a blessing for a team that needs all of that. Still, he wouldn’t be the savior. That’ll require many, many players.

Rob DausterWith the hiring of Mike Dunlap, the pick for Charlotte should be Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. I think that he has the highest ceiling when it comes to the players being discussed as the potential second pick, and Dunlap has a track record for developing players. Look at what he did with Moe Harkless at St. John’s this past season, and there are quite a few similarities between Harkless and MKG. But as Mike said, one pick is no where near the answer for the Bobcats.

Recruiting rundown: Future stars headline USA U17 team

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The last time USA Basketball sent a U17 team to the FIBA World Championship, it worked out pretty well. That squad unsurprisingly won a gold medal behind soon-to-be millionaires Brad Beal, Michael Gilchrist, Andre Drummond and several collegians that have next, James McAdoo, Adonis Thomas and Quinn Cook. Needless to say, the bar has been set for the newly minted U17 team, which was announced on Tuesday afternoon.

After watching three days of try-outs, it’s obvious that this year’s edition is a defensive-oriented, physical squad. While there may not be many prolific scoring threats, the coaching staff which is headed by high school coach Don Showalter of Iowa, have to be pleased with the team work and hardnosed play that was prevalent as 30 players did battle in Colorado Springs to make the squad. There is some familiarity, though, as seven members of the team captured the gold in the FIBA Americas U16 tournament in Cancun last summer.

Even the most casual fan has heard about the headliner of this team, 6-8 forward Jabari Parker of Simeon (Ill.), who recently graced the cover of Sports Illustrated. Parker, and incoming high school senior, will have two prominent sidekicks in juniors-to-be Tyus Jones, a point guard, and center Jahlil Okafor. Both are top-5 ranked prospects in the 2014 recruiting class, nationally. The super skilled Parker will be the subject of defensive pressure, but he has safety valves with a supreme distributor in Jones and a strong and technical post presence in Okafor. It’s safe to say that the performance of the three-headed monster of Parker, Jones and Okafor will be a key in this team’s success.

Other significant contributors figure to be Kansas pledge Conner Frankamp, who was an undersized gunner at 6-1 during trials. Frankamp absolutely scorched nets with his distance shooting. The same can be said for recent Georgetown pledge Stephen Domingo, who as a 6-8 small forward has the ability to stretch defenses by shooting over them. Both were extremely capable during tryouts and figure to open up the inside for Okafor and Parker.

There are two good options at small forward behind Domingo in two 2014 players, Stanley Johnson and Justise Winslow. Johnson played significant minutes in the FIBA Americas tournament last year, while Winslow displayed tremendous bounce at trials, and is the son of former Houston standout Rickie Winslow. Johnson is a strong lockdown defender at 230 pounds, and Winslow has a grown man’s frame that is ripe with explosiveness. Near the hoop, Winslow is almost automatic to crush the rim.

With Jones coming to trials with a minor thumb injury, there are two reserve point guards that were wisely selected to the roster, which could be important should Jones re-aggravate his injury. Joel Berry is a physical, all-around guard, while defensive-minded Kendrick Nunn has the skills to be a reserve at both guard slots.

Up front, skilled big man Johnathan Williams possesses an inside-outside game at 6-9, and is this team’s Lamar Odom. He has some good post moves, but has shooting range that extends to 3-point land. Beyond Williams, there isn’t much mystery about the other two frontcourt players, as 2013 center Beejay Anya and 2014 post Dakari Johnson made the team on their interior defense and rebounding. It’s not likely that Anya or Johnson will be heavy scorers, but expect them to defend the rim and grab caroms.

The roster consists of half 2013 prospects, and half the roster from the 2014 class. The incoming seniors include Anya, Domingo, Frankamp, Nunn, Parker and Williams, while the juniors are Berry, both Johnsons, Jones, Okafor and Winslow. Only Domingo and Frankamp have announced their college intentions.

The squad is set for some exhibition games in the Canary Islands, before making it to Lithuania for the World Championship next week.

Kellon Hassenstab runs Hoopniks.com. Follow him on Twitter @hoopniks.

Ranking the ranked recruits from 2011?

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Drew Cannon has spent the past couple of days breaking down the Class of 2011.

The resident recruiting savant of Basketball Prospectus not only took a shot at re-ranking ESPN’s top 100 recruits, he broke down the top 20 recruits that went unranked by the Dave Telep.

And what did he find?

Well, pretty much what you would have expected. The guys ranked at the top of the class heading into the year generally finished at the top of the class at the end of the year. Four of the nation’s top five recruits according to Telep — Anthony Davis, Austin Rivers, Brad Beal and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist — finished in the top six of freshmen performers, with No. 2 recruit Andre Drummond finishing 14th.

After that, however, things become more jumbled. LeBryan Nash (10th) was the 26th-rated freshman, James Michael-McAdoo (6th) finished 38th and Adonis Thomas (9th) finished 55th. Trey Burke (84th), D’Angelo Harrison (64th) and Moe Harkess (39th) all were top ten freshmen. Kevin Pangos, who went unranked by Telep, was probably a top 15-20 freshmen.

What’s more interesting to me, however, is the number of ranked recruits that had a minimal impact. Whether it was due to academics or redshirting, 14 ranked recruits didn’t play Division I basketball this past season. Another 18 were listed as unimpressive by Cannon. Only 48 of the 100 were, according to Cannon, starters or “strong rotation players”. Rakeem Christmas, who started but played very limited minutes for Syracuse, was ranked in the top 50. Josiah Turner, who was suspended a few times before getting kicked off of the Arizona team, was 52nd. Villanova’s Ty Johnson — who shot 34% from two, 23% from three and had a turnover rate of 36% — was 68th.

That should be fair warning to fans pinning next season’s hope on the fact their team brought in a pair of top 100 recruits. Those newcomers have potential and will very likely end up being talented and productive contributors in the program down the road. But expecting them to be the savior of this year’s team is asking too much.

But there is also reason to be hopeful.

Michigan won a share of the 2012 Big Ten regular season title because Trey Burke, who as ranked 84th by Telep but went unranked by other recruiting gurus, produced the fifth-best season of all freshmen. Indiana’s return to prominence isn’t solely the result of Cody Zeller’s emergence as a potential Player of the Year next season, but it didn’t hurt that he had the second best freshmen campaign last year. Harkless was ranked lower in the 2011 recruiting class than he is in the 2012 draft class by a wide margin.

Anything’d possible. But miracles aren’t likely.

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

After Anthony Davis, which player in the 2012 NBA draft has the most pro potential?

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It’s almost a foregone conclusion that former Kentucky Wildcat Anthony Davis will go first overall in the 2012 NBA draft. But, after him, who has the most pro potential?

Thomas Robinson?

The junior, Robinson, is of a different mold than many near the top of the draft, as he stayed behind older players at Kansas before he got his chance this past season. And he capitalized.

He averaged 17.9 points and 11.8 rebounds for a Kansas team that, against many early season projections, made its way to the national championship game, before losing to Kentucky.

Robinson has an NBA-ready body at 6-10, 237, but did not shoot a high percentage in NCAA tournament games when he was challenged on the block.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist?

Kidd-Gilchrist has already been tabbed by many as the most pro-ready player other than Anthony Davis on the 2011-12 Kentucky roster.

He, too, has a pro-ready body for the small forward position and attacks the basket as well or can get out in transition. His athleticism allows him to bring it on both ends of the floor and teams at the high end of the draft could be looking for a player with his base of skills, including Sacramento, New Orleans, or Portland.

Andre Drummond?

Potential continues to be the word surrounding Drummond, who averaged 10.2 points and 7.7 rebounds in his freshman season with Connecticut.

Some have gone as far as to say that Drummond “would lose an NBA GM his job,” presumably for being drafted so high and perhaps not producing.

He has the athleticism and he showed the ability to block shots, but questions about his work ethic and maturity have not faded. He still needs to work on his back-to-the-basket game, but is impressive above the rim.

Others: Brad Beal, Florida | Harrison Barnes, North Carolina

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Early Entry Breakdowns: The Five Winners

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Read through the rest of our Early Entry breakdowns here.

Indiana: The Hoosiers are going to be one of the top three teams in the country heading into next season, if not No. 1. The biggest reason why is their biggest player, Cody Zeller. Zeller had a chance to be a top ten pick in this year’s draft, but he opted to return to school. Why? Improve his draft stock? Win a Big Ten and/or national title? Get revenge on Kentucky? Well, frankly, the why doesn’t matter. What does matter is that the Hoosiers will have arguably the nation’s best offensive presence in the low-post back for another year, and it should put them into perfect position to make a run at Indiana’s first Final Four in a decade.

Michigan: At first, it didn’t look like Michigan was going to end up on this list. Sure, Tim Hardaway’s decision to return to school was a key. So is the recruiting class that John Beilein is bringing in — headlined by top 50 recruits Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson. But with early reports that Trey Burke, Michigan’s all-conference point guard, was making his way to the NBA, the Wolverines looked like they were going to lose their sparkplug. But Burke did decide to return to school, and now the Wolverines should be a top ten team and a legitimate threat to Indiana to win the Big Ten title.

North Texas and Lehigh: North Texas and Lehigh are teams that you will rarely see talked about on a national level in college hoops, but thanks to the decisions of a couple of stars, both the Mountain Hawks and the Mean Green — two of the nation’s best nicknames, I might add — will be factors despite playing in out-of-the-way conferences. Lehigh got good news when their star CJ McCollum, who led the upset of Duke in the opening round of the NCAA tournament, announced he would be back for his senior season. Expect McCollum to have a season somewhere between Jimmer’s senior year and Steph Curry’s sophomore campaign.

UNT got big news when Tony Mitchell decided to remain in school, but it wasn’t always clear things were heading that direction. Mitchell initially announced that he would be heading back to school, but he nearly changed his mind when head coach Johnny Jones took the same job with LSU. Mitchell will headline a young, but very talented Mean Green team.

Florida: Yes, the Gators lost Brad Beal to the NBA, but anyone that thought that Florida was going to be keeping a guy destined for the top five wasn’t thinking rationally. The better news is that the Gators got both Kenny Boynton and Patric Young back for their senior and junior season, respectively. With the roster that the Gators bring back and a solid recruiting class coming in, that should be enough to keep Florida at the top of the SEC.

NC State: The Wolfpack got lucky. Not only did Lorenzo Brown make the smart decision to skip out on the NBA Draft, but CJ Leslie also came back for another season under Mark Gottfried. NC State will be the favorite to win the ACC this year, in no small part due to the presence of Brown and Leslie. With a trio of talented wing recruits, a spot-up shooter in Scott Wood and a bruiser on the block in Howell, Brown and Leslie give NC State a scoring punch they would otherwise be lacking at the point and at the four.

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