Over the past several years, Midnight Madness has morphed into an event that is as much about recruiting as it is about the official start of practice.
Many teams will roll out the red carpet for their main targets this weekend, showing them everything the program and university have to offer. Prospective recruits get to see the student body showing enthusiasm for the basketball team, and they also get to watch a real practice.
The class of 2011 was mostly an anomaly from the perspective of recruiting and Midnight Madness. Many of the top prospects had already committed prior to the start of college practice, while others eventually pledged to schools that did not receive the Midnight Madness visit. Josiah Turner (Arizona), Angelo Chol (Arizona) and LeBryan Nash (Oklahoma State) went to Kansas, while Cody Zeller (Indiana) tripped to North Carolina.
This year could be different – there are still plenty five-star prospects left on the board and most of them will be taking visits somewhere this weekend. Here’s a handy guide to the recruiting festivities.
Is there where John Calipari makes his move? At this time last year, Kentucky already had four top-25 recruits wrapped up. The Wildcats only have one in the fold for 2012, although Archie Goodwin might be the most explosive scoring guard in the country. This weekend, in addition to Goodwin, Kentucky will host Shabazz Muhammad (No. 1), DaJuan Coleman (No. 10), Alex Poythress (No. 14) and Willie Cauley (No. 47), as well as top-10 juniors Andrew and Aaron Harrison. The Wildcats are the presumed leaders for Cauley, and they are in good shape for Poythress as well.
There will be plenty of noise coming from Calipari’s old stomping grounds: We mean “noise” in the literal and figurative sense. Memphis will play host to Shaq Goodwin, Tony Parker and Jarnell Stokes, three of the top available players in the class of 2012, as well as commit Damien Wilson. Five-star junior Nick King and 2013 prospect Austin Nichols are also expected to be in attendance. The main reason for the buzz surrounding the Tigers’ festivities is Rick Ross – one of the most popular rappers in the game right now will be performing. “If I was a player and Rick Ross was rolling in, I just might go there for Midnight [Madness] as well,” a rival coach said.
Gary Harris and Indiana: Harris taking a trip to Hoosier Hysteria would be newsworthy on its own, but it took on a life of itself Tuesday night. That is when the story broke that Tom Crean visited the five-star swingman one day after the evaluation period ended, which is a clear NCAA violation. Harris said he still plans on visiting Indiana for Midnight Madness, but it will be interesting to see if the incident affects his recruitment. The Hoosiers are trailing in his recruitment heading into his official visit.
Who’s NOT having Midnight Madness? It seems plenty of schools are skipping out on the late-night festivities and instead focusing on simply practicing as a team. Ohio State won’t host any players, while Illinois, Cincinnati, South Carolina, Pittsburgh, North Carolina State, Iowa State, Boston College, Seton Hall and plenty of others are simply forgoing the hoopla. Some schools, like UCLA and Georgia Tech, don’t have an arena to hold the event in, while Xavier, Villanova and Clemson are among the programs that hold their own version of Midnight Madness a week later than everyone.
Syracuse’s last-minute changes: As of a couple weeks ago, Syracuse had a fairly boring Midnight Madness planned. Tone Loc, he of the 1990s hits, and Jersey Shore’s Deena were the “entertainment.” As one coach said, “I wouldn’t want recruits there.” However, in the last week, the festivities have undergone a complete renovation. An alumni game will be played, featuring Carmelo Anthony, Pearl Washington, Hakim Warrick, Jonny Flynn, Derrick Coleman and others. Furthermore, the musical guest will be Meek Mill, who has put out hit-after-hit in the past year. As far as recruits, Nerlens Noel and Goodluck Okonoboh were already scheduled to be there, but will Jim Boeheim now make an effort to get more targets on campus?
St. John’s: The Red Storm will have a host of recruits on campus, including currently-ineligible prospects Amir Garrett and Norvel Pelle. Chris McCullough, one of the top 2014 recruits, is expected to be in attendance, while Jermaine Lawrence (2013), Jason Boswell (2013), Dayshon Smith (2013) and Chris Obekpa (2012) could be there as well. Commits Ricardo Gathers and Darrick Wood are also visiting.
Rutgers: The Scarlet Knights are bringing in plenty of targets to MidKnight Madness, including juniors Brandon Austin, Stanford Robinson, Reggie Cameron and Mike Young. Kyle Williams, Rashad Figures, Wade Baldwin, Quadri Moore, Kyle Towns, Horace Spencer, Isaiah Still, C.J. Davis and others are also rumored to be attending.
Marquette: 2012 commitments T.J. Taylor, Jamal Ferguson and Steve Taylor will take official visits, but that’s not all. Phil Nolan, Kevin Looney, Duane Wilson, Diamond Stone, Monte Morris, Juwan Parker, Jaquan Lyle, Dennis Williams, Charles Matthews, Dominique Williams and Toby Hegner are also attending.
DePaul: The Blue Demons will have something of a monopoly on underclassmen attending Midnight Madness. Per a source, DePaul is hosting: Darreon Reddick (2014), Darius Austin (2014), Evan Budrow (2015), Tyler Jackson (2015), C.J. Rivers (2013), Jordan Ash (2015), Prentiss Nixon (2015), Billy Garrett Jr. (2013), Keita Bates-Diop (2014), Glynn Watson (2015), Roosevelt Smart (2015), Karriem Simmons (2014), Amanzke Egezeke (2014), Paul Turner (2014), Jordan Poydras (2012), Jalen Brunson (2015) and Erick Locke (2014).
Indiana: In addition to Harris, the Hoosiers will play host to Grant Evans, Jalen Coleman, D’Angelo Russell, Jeremy Hollowell, Derek Willis, Sam Singer and others.
Other Notable Uncommitted Visitors (Continue to check back for updates)
- Kaleb Tarczewski, No. 8: Kansas
- Amile Jefferson, No. 13: Connecticut
- T.J. Warren, No. 33: North Carolina
- Winston Shepard, No. 34: New Mexico
- Rosco Allen, No. 83: Oregon
- Zena Edosomwan, No. 87: Texas
- Javontae Hawkins, No. 95: Cincinnati
- Tyrone Wallace, No. 96: California
- Anthlon Bell: Arkansas
- Jordon Granger: Auburn
- Daniel Dingle: Auburn
- Landen Lucas: California
- Sam Cassell Jr.: Maryland
- Ryan Rosburg: Missouri
- Orlando Sanchez: Providence
- Stefan Jankovic: Purdue
- Austin Nichols: Vanderbilt
- Richard Longrus: Washington State
- Junior Lomomba: Washington State
- Brett Boese: Washington State
- Julius Randle, No. 2: Texas
- Chris Walker, No. 5: Kansas
- Troy Williams, No. 9: Georgetown
- Matt Jones, No. 12: Duke
- Al Freeman, No. 15: Kansas
- Brannen Greene, No. 16: Kansas
- Nate Britt, No. 19: North Carolina
- Kuran Iverson, No. 23: Connecticut
- Greg McClinton, No. 31: Louisville
- Kennedy Meeks, No. 34: Georgetown
- Anton Gill, No. 36: Louisville
- Isaiah Lewis, No. 40: Kansas
- Malik Price-Martin, No. 42: Louisville
- Austin Colbert, No. 46: Connecticut
- Tyler Ennis, No. 58: Syracuse
- Kyle Washington, No. 63: Connecticut
- Brandon Austin, No. 75: Rutgers
- Juwan Parker, No. 77: Oklahoma
- Karviar Sheppard, No. 80: Kansas
- Rodney Bullock, No. 88: Maryland
- Anthony Dallier: Boston College
- Peter Miller: Boston College
- Jaylen Brantley: Connecticut
- Xavier Rathan-Mayes: Connecticut
- Josh Hart: Georgetown
- Andre Walker: Maryland
- Marquan Botley: Memphis
- Treshawn Bolden: Memphis
- Demetrius Jackson: Michigan State
- Shaq Morris: Oklahoma
- Rene Castro: Providence
- Robert Hubbs: Vanderbilt
- Noah Vonleh, No. 10: Connecticut
- Cliff Alexander, No. 12: Michigan State
- Paul White, No. 13: Michigan State
- Jalen Lindsey, No. 26: Memphis (or Vanderbilt)
- Malik Yarbrough, No. 30: Marquette
- Jaquel Richmond, No. 31: Duke
- Kahari Beaufort, No. 41: Connecticut
- Shep Garner: Georgetown
- Jacob Hammond-Diaz: Oklahoma
- Omega Harris: Oklahoma
- Jared Terrell: Providence
- Kelly Oubre: Texas A&M
- Jeremy Miller: Connecticut
- Alonzo Trier: Oklahoma
- Isaiah Briscoe: Syracuse
- Zach Radz: Syracuse
NOTE: There are obviously countless recruits visiting schools this weekend. If we left out noteworthy players, drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet me @jeffborzello.
Photo: Syracuse Alumni Club