High school basketball season is just warming up and that'll give fans of the game opportunities to watch how the 2013 class looks once players start stepping out for their sophomore years. We'll have a chance to see which Michigan point guards start to distinguish themselves and also who joins Leo Edwards among the best young post players in the state. Attention will reach beyond Michigan to the games happening in Illinois (Jabari Parker, we're looking at you!) as well as the Izzo stomping grounds of Indiana and Ohio. The Only Colors recruiting phalanx (welcome, Patrick!) plans to keep an eye on who's looking good, who's putting up big numbers, and which players are receiving lots of Green & White attention. Until the season really begins to roll, here's some links and quick hits on Collin Hartman, Gary Harris, Jabari Parker, and some of our recent signees.
ESPN has offered their take on the Big Ten's 2011 recruiting classes. Once again, OSU won the recruiting conference championship with a 'A' alongside Illinois. Michigan State pulled an A- with its four man class (sorry, gotta plug my piece one more time). Interesting note: author John Stovall refused to grant anything higher than a B- to any other team in the conference. Slow year, under-rating, or evidence of a Big Ten drop-off?
It's no doubt that Michigan State is always looking for tough players and Collin Hartman, a 6'6" wing forward from Indiana, recently played through a scrimmage with a freshly broken nose. The article from Kyle Neddenriep of the IndyStar also mentions that Hartman may start thinking more seriously about his recruitment and narrowing down his schools and priorities. Considering Collin is only a sophomore, he's by no means behind schedule but it reminds you how fast recruiting moves these days especially in the state of Indiana where 2011/2012 recruits are committing like dominoes. The IndyStar also updated their rankings of that loaded 2012 class. Not much to see for MSU fans except that prime 2012 target Gary Harris is ranked as the number two player in the state behind Indiana verbal Hanner Perea.
Speaking of, Gary Harris has been enjoying numerous visits including taking in some early season games while on trips to Louisville and Purdue. Neither of those teams have been mentioned previously in the forefront of his recruitment so it's anyone's guess how excited their respective fans should be about the attention. Louisville recently won a recruiting battle against MSU for Ohio's Zach Price so they're a team to watch if their involvement gets serious. Many believe it's still a IU/MSU dogfight but I keep hearing that Gary's decision may come as late as during his senior season so it's not unlikely that new suitors will appear over the next year. Recently, his father mentioned that after this season might be a good time to focusing in on certain schools. Wait-and-see mode on this one.
Con-T had this on the retweet: Reggie Rankin sent out the word that Coach K was returning to his old home of Chicago and putting strong interest into Jabari Parker. Attention from yet another national powerhouse explains why Parker is one of the first players for 2013 to receive an offer from MSU.
Brandan Kearney got some more pub in this article from SLAM Magazine Online. I have to confess - calling one of the 2011 in-state's classes most talked about players over the past three years a "kept secret" hits me a little funny. The strength of this article, though, is that BK and his supporters speak directly to the claim that he lacks aggressiveness on the court. Comparisons to a better shooting Rajon Rondo may be a little heavy but the case is well-stated that BK is someone who can make a team better without demanding the spotlight. With his do-it-all game, he has the potential to be a key glue guy whose unselfishness and versatility allows everyone on the court alongside him to make plays. His upcoming senior season will definitely be one to watch as he competes for Mr. Basketball. Will he have the numbers?
One of the fun things about all of amateur hoops is local pride and this article spotlights the basketball tradition in the city of Gary. Of course, a central figure is Lew Wallace star and recent MSU-signee Branden Dawson. Apparently MSU's knowledge of the Gary tradition and its Spartan-friendly qualities are part of what helped woo Branden and his supporters. He offered this quote that could just as easily refer to MSU, "They all knew of Gary," Dawson said of those in East Lansing. "They know we play tough, hard basketball. They know we work hard. Our reputation is winning. And I think we all showed that last March."
LifeInLansing.com and Saw Hosey has the word on the Turkeyman Super Scrimmage inside the Fieldhouse at Lansing Eastern next week. Many of the state's top high school teams will be there along with their marquee players. MSU's own verbal commit and "Day-Day-on-the-wing" in waiting Denzel Valentine is scheduled to play. Supporters of Michigan hoops should also be able to watch Saginaw Arthur Hill and its star Jordan Hare. People excited to see him play may want to take the opportunity because a trip to watch him in college will probably cost some gas money down south or out west, IMO.
Next Generation Sports hosted a Fall Hoopfest and issued some player blurbs with lots of familiar local names like LaDontae Henton (2011 Dayton Signee), Steven Haney (2013 MSU wing recruit), Cha Cha Tucker (12013 MSU PG recruit) and Elbert Mathews (2013 MSU wing recruit). Nice to hear an opinion that Cha Cha Tucker has looked stronger. With his size, he'll need plenty of strength to thrive in a conference like the Big Ten.
In recruiting loose ends, Amir Williams will join fellow Michigan big man Trey McDonalds at OSU. I threw my comments into Uncle Omar's FanShot about the decision. It's been hard for MSU to pull players from Detroit Country Day and it looks like Izzo abandoned ship on Williams' recruitment before it got too serious.
Another player with whom Izzo parted ways, Jeremiah Davis formerly of Muncie, Indiana, committed over the early signing period. Davis choose to become a Cincinnati Bearcat. That's a good program for Jeremiah and positive end to his story. Still, it's a cautionary tale about waiting too long on an offer. Despite his claim that he was "considering Indiana, Michigan State, Oklahoma State, and Ball State," it's highly unlikely that those first two offers had been on the table in months. Davis had his choice between a Big Ten powerhouse and a historic conference giant in the midst of a resurrection only to watch those doors close as Coaches Izzo and Crean looked in other directions. Sometimes it's best to jump while the offer is there.
You may have caught the buzz about cutting summer recruiting that was in the news last month. If you haven't, there's lots of articles but here's one that discusses the rejection of this idea by college coaches with Izzo, as head of the National Association of Basketball Coaches, at the center. Anyway, one of the rationales is to limit the influence of AAU programs and coaches. While it's easy to paint all AAU figures with a broad brush of selfish motives and manipulation, one guy who I respect and quote frequently on here, Steve Bell, was willing to go on the record over at tRCMB about what he does and why he does it, particularly in response to whether his recruit rankings and observations are biased. Bear in mind, this is just a casual messageboard post but I'm always a fan of someone who's willing to lay his case on the line and state where he's coming from. If you like recruiting/AAU/coaching "inside-basketball" talk, check it out. It's worth noting that this thread was all in response to Con-T's PG post! Yeek!