|Wednesday, July 16
|Basketball recruiting buzz|
By Jeff Goodman
Junior guard Rashad McCants was born and raised in North Carolina while sophomore Lawrence Carrier grew up on the West coast. Both decided to improve their grades - and their games - by heading to the prep schools on the East coast.
McCants is a 6-foot-3, 195-pound guard/small forward who has already established himself as one of the top 10 players in his class. He grew up in Asheville, N.C., and played his first two seasons at the Clyde A. Erwin School, where he was a one-man wrecking crew his sophomore season.
"All the seniors left and that's when all the negative rumors started," said McCants. "They were all saying how selfish I was, but we really didn't have good players on the team."
McCants then heeded his AAU teammate, Wes Miller's advice, and headed to the New Hampton School in New Hampshire. He has since improved his grade point average from 2.3 to 3.5 and is averaging about 26 points per game, down one point from his average last year in Carolina.
"He can post you up and is a small "3", but he plays like he's about 6-6 or 6-7," said New Hampton coach Jamie Arsenault. "He's got very long arms and could develop into one of the top players in the country. He's a scorer who can take you inside or outside."
McCants would ideally like to go back to ACC country and sign with Duke, who he grew up hating, or North Carolina. Both schools have shown interest and should offer, but if they don't he likes Stanford, Connecticut, Seton Hall and Arizona.
"I loved Carolina and hated Duke, but then I realized that Duke is a great, great program," added McCants. "Not to put down Carolina, but Duke is in the top five every year."
Carrier was in a similar situation, wanting to step up his play and his classroom performance. He left the warm weather of Redwood, Calif., and enrolled at the Salisbury School in Connecticut prior to last season.
The 6-foot-7, 190-pound sophomore is already being recruited by the likes of Ohio State, Iowa State, Goergia Tech, Seton Hall and Cincinnati. But he has his favorites.
"Probably UConn, Miami and UCLA," said Carrier, who is averaging 21 points and 10 rebounds this season. "I'd love to go back home and play at UCLA. I grew up rooting for them."
Carrier is more of a wing player and is shooting 35 percent from three-point land. The physical part of the game hasn't been much of a problem, but the mental part is a different story.
"I feel like I'm ready for college now physically, but I don't know if I could play in front of a national audience mentally," said Carrier. "I get into it with the refs and if I don't get a call, I get mad."
Point of Return
The top points guard in the junior class, Saginaw High's (Mich.) Anthony Roberson, has been switched to the off-guard spot this season and while the adjustment took a little while, the 6-foot-2 ½, 187-pounder has responded.
Roberson is averaging 25.7 points and 6.2 rebounds per game.
"At the beginning of the season, he was reluctant to shoot," said Saginaw coach Marshall Thomas. "I had to force him to do so. Now he's willing to put up a lot more shots, which is what we need from him this year."
Roberson is enjoying his time at the off-guard spot, but he knows his future is as a point guard.
"I've always played point guard and have always been able to score while playing the point," said Roberson. "The hardest part now is not having the ball in my hands all the time."
Michigan State was one of the first schools to show serious interest and Roberson says he'll consider the Spartans when commitment-time rolls around. However, his top five also includes Duke, Arizona, Florida and North Carolina.
"When I get ready, Michigan State will be a real big option for me," added Roberson. "But I wouldn't be mad if I had to leave the state. I'm hoping to make a decision fairly soon, probably during the football season."
Last season Sean May played in the shadow of McDonald's All-American Jared Jeffries at Bloomington North High. This year it's his show and the 6-foot-8, 250-pound junior is averaging 24.6 points and 13.3 rebounds per game.
May is being recruited by all the top schools and Indiana may be the front-runner since his father, Scott, was the star on the Hoosiers 1976 national championship team and a first-round pick of the Chicago Bulls.
"Sean is a very good inside player who has good touch and can play out on the wing and shoot the "3"," said Bloomington North coach Tom McKinney. "In high school, there aren't a whole lot of kids his size."
May is shooting 45 percent from three-point range and 65 percent overall. Other schools who have already shown serious interest are Duke, North Carolina and Ohio State.
"Jared had offers from any school he wanted to go to in the country and so does Sean," added McKinney.
Tor-ing It Up
Tabor Academy's (Mass.) Torin Francis has only been playing basketball for four years, but the 6-foot-9 junior knows he'll be playing for a while longer.
Francis, who moved an hour from inner-city Boston out towards Cape Cod, is averaging 19 points and 12 boards per game this season and has taken a back seat to Boston College-bound senior Jermaine Watson.
Francis has narrowed his initial wish list somewhat to a manageable Duke, North Carolina, USC, Florida, Georgetown, Stanford and UCLA.
He has already scored a 1000 on his SAT and has a 3.7 GPA.
Albany Westover High's (Ga.) Greg Tinch is one of the highest-profile seniors who hasn't signed yet and isn't contemplating a jump to the NBA. The 6-foot-5, 220-pounder is leaning towards Connecticut, but is also looking at Louisville, Colorado, Miami and Cincinnati.
He de-committed from Seton Hall because he wants to go somewhere that has a football program in case things don't work out on the hardwood.
"He's probably the best football player in the state," says his basketball coach at Westover, Willie Boston. "He plays the post at 6-foot-5 for us, and that's been a question for some of the larger schools whether he can play the perimeter. Knowing him, he can learn to play the small forward position without any problem, but he's just so strong and tough that we needed him on the inside."
Two big men who haven't committed yet and won't be looking at the NBA are Brentwood Academy (Tenn.) big man David Harrison, who is deciding between Colorado, Vanderbilt, North Carolina, Duke and Kentucky; and Louisville Ballard High (Ky.) center Brandon Bender, whose list includes Kentucky, Memphis, DePaul, Louisville and Alabama.
There are five players with a legitimate shot at skipping college at this point: Dominguez High (Calif.) 7-foot forward Tyson Chandler (UCLA, Michigan); Thornwood High (Ill.) 7-foot, 285-pound center Eddy Curry (verbally committed to Depaul); St. Jude (Ala.) 6-foot-9 power forward Ousmane Cisse (Louisville, Duke, North Carolina, Virginia, Kentucky, Miami, Arkansas, UConn); Oak Hill Academy (Va.) 7-footer DeSagana Diop (UNC, Virginia); and St. Edward's (Ohio) 6-foot-9 forward Jawad Williams (verbally committed to North Carolina).
Glynn Academy (Ga.) 6-foot-11, 240-pound forward Kwame Brown and Camden High (N.J.) point guard Dajuan Wagner, who scored 100 points in a game earlier this season, have both re-affirmed they will not bypass college, although both would be near-certain first-round picks in the NBA draft.
Here is a list of juniors who have already verbally committed to college:
J.J. Redick, 6-4, Roanoke Cave Spring High (Va.) -- Duke
Michael Thompson, 6-10, Providence Catholic (Ill.) -- Duke
Paul Davis, 6-9, Rochester High (Minn.) -- Michigan State
Lester Abrams, 6-6, Pontiac Northern High (Mich.) -- Michigan
Jeff Horner, 6-2, Mason City High (Iowa) -- Iowa
Adam Haluska, 6-4, Carroll High (Iowa) -- Iowa State
Roy Enright, 6-9, Burke High (Neb.) -- Nebraska
Richard Joyce, 6-5, Mt. Airy High (N.C.) -- Wake Forest
Mario Moore, 5-10, Antioch High (Tenn.) -- Vanderbilt
Kenneth Harris, 6-8, Bishop Noll (Ind.) -- Valparaiso
Mark Adams, 6-1, Meadowbrook High (Va.) --VCU
Material from SchoolSports.com.
Visit their web site at www.schoolsports.com