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Posted on: January 23, 2012 4:18 pm
 

Notebook: Amedeo Della Valle taking his time

By Jeff Borzello

Amedeo Della Valle didn’t emerge on the scene until about four months ago, but he’s still managed to cement himself as one of the best available guards in the country.

Della Valle, a 6-foot-5 native of Italy, has been starting for Findlay Prep (Nev.) this season. Getting a chance to play alongside top-10 guys like Brandon Ashley and Anthony Bennett has given him an opportunity to get seen by plenty of schools.

He is currently hearing from Gonzaga, UCLA, Arizona, Connecticut, Georgetown, California, Oklahoma State, Saint Mary’s, Utah and Portland.

The only school he has visited so far was Arizona.

“It was a game against San Diego State, which they lost,” Della Valle said. “But I got to walk the campus, see the facilities.”

Della Valle is a natural point guard, but with Dominic Artis and Nigel Williams-Goss entrenched in the Findlay backcourt, he’s been playing out of position a bit. Moreover, with Bennett injured, Della Valle has been defending bigger players.

It’s given him the chance to demonstrate his versatility.

“I can play the one and the two,” Della Valle said. “I can defend combo guards.”

Della Valle is taking his time with a decision, and said he will likely choose a school until April. There are no favorites, and no other visits planned just yet.

“I want to play right away,” he said. “I also want a great coach. And style of play is important.”

Other Findlay notes:

- Five-star forward Anthony Bennett said he hasn’t talked to any coaches in awhile, instead focused on recovering from injury and the season. He plans to take all five visits and will wait until after the end of the season. Washington, Kentucky, Florida, UNLV and Oregon are the five schools on his list.

- Winston Shepard saw his stock rise a bit since the Hoophall Classic, getting an offer from Connecticut in the past two weeks. New Mexico, San Diego State, UNLV, Oklahoma State and UTEP were his final five, with St. John’s and Oregon also sniffing around. Shepard doesn’t have any visits planned, but he has already tripped to New Mexico.

- Former UNLV commit Nigel Williams-Goss hasn’t narrowed things down yet. The junior guard still has the Runnin’ Rebels in the mix, but Washington, Oregon, Harvard, Arizona and UCLA are coming at him the hardest.

Photo: Findlay Prep

Posted on: January 20, 2012 4:36 pm
 

Derek Willis is Kentucky's first 2013 commit

By Jeff Borzello

Derek Willis’ recruitment has had several twists and turns over the past six months, and he wasn’t expected to make a new decision just yet. Last week, though, the former Purdue commit said he was ready to make an announcement.

During a press conference at Bullitt East High School (Ky.), Willis made his pledge to Kentucky.

“Kentucky was just the best fit for me and that’s why I chose them,” he said.

Willis chose the Wildcats over Purdue, Indiana and Louisville. It was reported that he narrowed his list to two schools – Purdue was the other – recently, and made up his mind a week ago.

Willis is a top-50 recruit in the class of 2013. The 6-foot-9 forward is extremely skilled and he has good inside-outside ability. He has not reached his full potential just yet, but is one of the more versatile offensive players in the class when he brings it consistently.

He is Kentucky’s first commitment in the class of 2013.

Posted on: January 20, 2012 10:34 am
 

Amile Jefferson could be on verge of decision

By Jeff Borzello

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – For the past couple of months, it has seemed like Amile Jefferson was on the verge of making a decision.

This time, he might really mean it.

“It’s getting close,” Jefferson said over the weekend. “I’m hoping it’s soon. It’s day-to-day. We’re going to sit down and give each coach one more call.”

Jefferson, a 6-foot-9 forward from Friends Central (Pa.), is ranked No. 13 in CBSSports.com’s Top 100. He is considering five schools heading into the home stretch: Villanova, Ohio State, North Carolina State, Kentucky and Duke.

“There’s a lot of pressure,” Jefferson said. “You get the pressure from fans. There’s no more courting. People want you to make a decision.”

Duke is one of the schools getting plenty of attention with Jefferson the past few weeks. Mike Krzyzewski turned up the heat on him recently, becoming a major player in his recruitment after sniffing around for a while.

The Blue Devils are squarely in the mix.

“Duke was always a school I had interest in,” Jefferson said. “I’ve been talking to Coach K. You go there, you know you have a chance to compete for national championships and play with some of the best players in the country.”

Before Duke was one of the finalists, Jefferson had taken official visits to Villanova, Ohio State, NC State and Kentucky – but not to Duke. In fact, he hasn’t seen the Durham campus since his sophomore year.

However, it doesn’t look like that will hurt the Blue Devils’ chances.

“I don’t think so,” Jefferson said. “I’ve seen a lot and I talk to coach K and coach [Chris] Collins a lot.”

Is Duke the new favorite? We’ll see by the end of the month – maybe.

Photo: Adidas Nations

Posted on: January 18, 2012 1:38 pm
 

Kuran Iverson hearing from plenty of suitors

By Jeff Borzello

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Kuran Iverson has been one of the most hyped players in the class of 2013 for several years. His 6-foot-9 size and versatile skill set have had onlookers drooling over his potential.

Over the summer, though, he put on pounds and it slowed him down. To his credit, though, he realized it and has made adjustments.

“I carried a lot of weight and it started to hurt my knees,” Iverson said. “So I cut down on my eating, worked out more.”

Iverson looked significantly slimmer over the weekend at the Hoophall Classic, but he struggled against DeMatha Catholic’s BeeJay Anya due to Anya’s size and length inside. Iverson finished with four points and three rebounds, hampered by foul trouble the entire game.

The Northwest Catholic (Conn.) prospect hopes to be a small forward at the next level. Which school he ends up at is still up for grabs.

So far, he is hearing from Connecticut, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, North Carolina, Rutgers, St. John’s, Oklahoma and Florida. Iverson wants to visit North Carolina, Florida and Rutgers. He has been to Connecticut, and would like to take another trip. The Huskies are one of the schools standing out to him right now.

Kentucky is another school getting plenty of play with Iverson. Head coach John Calipari went to one of his games at Northwest Catholic, and the Wildcats are showing interest. They have not yet offered, but they would move into the forefront of his recruitment should they extend a scholarship.

Iverson is not ready to make a decision just yet.

“I’m not thinking about it until after the season,” he said.

Photo: Southington Sports

Posted on: January 18, 2012 10:21 am
 

Julius Randle begins taking unofficial visits

By Jeff Borzello

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Julius Randle is still about a year from making his college decision, but that hasn’t stopped him from taking steps in the recruiting process.

Earlier this month, the No. 3-ranked prospect in 2013 spent some time on Tobacco Road, visiting North Carolina, North Carolina State and Duke.

“They’re three programs that have great tradition,” Randle said. “It was just an honor to visit. It was a lot of fun.”

Randle, a 6-foot-8 power forward from Prestonwood Christian (Texas), is not tipping his hand as to which visit was the best – or to which specific schools are recruiting him.

“I don’t have a list,” he said. “If you name a team, they’re probably recruiting me.”

However, Randle did say he wants to take unofficial visits to Texas and Kentucky in the near future.

“I like the versatility of the players they have,” he said.

In addition to the aforementioned five schools, Ohio State, Kansas, Baylor are also among the colleges heavily pursuing Randle. He won’t make a decision until after he takes his five official visits, which will happen next fall.

While academics rank high on the priority list for Randle, coaching style is also going to be a major factor when he eventually makes a decision.

“A coach that will push me,” he said. “He’s not going to always tell me what I want to hear, but what I need to hear. Someone that will make me the best player I can be.”

Photo: Bleacher Report 

Posted on: January 17, 2012 2:20 pm
 

Ricardo Gathers has four favorites

By Jeff Borzello

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Since Ricardo Gathers decommitted from St. John’s in early November, several new schools have tried to get involved in his recruitment.

While he doesn’t seem to be in a rush to finish the process, Gathers has shed some light on his suitors.

After his Riverside (La.) team lost to Gonzaga (D.C.) on Saturday at the Hoophall Classic, the No. 52-ranked player in the class of 2012 said he had been hearing from Baylor, LSU, St. John’s, California, North Carolina State and Florida.

His four favorites are: Baylor, St. John’s, Florida and North Carolina State.

The Red Storm remain in the mix despite parting ways two months ago.

“I like their style of play,” the 6-foot-8 power forward said. “How they go so hard.”

Two schools mentioned recently with Gathers are Kentucky and Duke, but he said neither is showing consistent interest.

Duke contacted him once. “Not frequently,” he said.

As for Kentucky, head coach John Calipari came to one game, but the Wildcats have yet to contact him directly or offer him a scholarship.

Gathers plans to make a decision after the season, but he wants to take trips to North Carolina State, Duke, Florida and Baylor before announcing his final commitment.

Photo: New Orleans Times-Picayune

Posted on: January 16, 2012 1:40 pm
Edited on: January 16, 2012 1:45 pm
 

Connecticut joins race for Tony Parker



By
Jeff Borzello

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – It seems every time Tony Parker discusses his recruitment, another school enters the picture.

This time, it’s Connecticut.

“[Jim] Calhoun called me recently,” Parker said after his team’s loss to St. Anthony (N.J.) at the Hoop Hall Classic. “I’ll sit down with my dad. They’re one of his favorite schools.”

Parker, a 6-foot-8 big man from Miller Grove (Ga.), is one of the top uncommitted players left in the class of 2012. He still has Kentucky, Duke, UCLA, Ohio State and Memphis on his list, with Kansas showing recent interest.

Parker said he plans to make a decision during the spring.

“It’s getting closer, it’s starting to get hectic,” he said. “But I don’t really feel any pressure.”

Parker struggled against the swarming defense of St. Anthony on Monday, finishing with just six points and three rebounds. Duke and Kentucky had three representatives each to watch Parker, with Mike Kryzewski and Jim Calhoun both in attendance. Kevin Ollie from Connecticut also took in the game.

Parker enjoys the eyeballs watching him.

“The light is on me,” he said. “I don’t feel any added pressure because if I choose them, I’m going to play in front of them everyday. It’s kind of fun.”

Kentucky recently began showing more interest in Parker, and the Wildcats are in the mix for his final official visit. The Wildcats have already secured a commitment from Alex Poythress, Parker’s friend and AAU teammate on the Georgia Stars.

Poythress has been helping Kentucky recruit Parker.

“Their interest is good,” Parker said. “I get the Kentucky calls everyday from [Poythress], making sure I’m watching the game. It’s a great place.”

Although several teams are trying to jump into the process late in the game, Ohio State is one of the programs that have been involved since the start. Assistant coach Drew Dickerson represented the Buckeyes on Monday.

If Jared Sullinger leaves early, Parker would be the ideal replacement.

“They’re a great program,” he said. “They do a lot with their bigs, which really works in my favor. They really recruit good around their bigs. I have a deep relationship with the coaching staff.”

Parker plans to take his final official visit before making a decision. He said Kentucky, Kansas and Connecticut are all in the mix for it, but it will likely come down to Kentucky or Connecticut for his last trip.

Unless another team enters the picture, of course.

Photo: Five Star Basketball 

Posted on: January 6, 2012 2:40 pm
Edited on: January 6, 2012 2:46 pm
 

Aquille Carr commits to Seton Hall

By Jeff Borzello

Aquille Carr has made a name for himself over the past few years due to his diminutive stature, tremendous athleticism and ridiculous scoring exploits.

In a couple of years, the 5-foot-6 guard will be taking all of that with him to Seton Hall.

He announced his commitment to the Pirates via his Twitter account just before 2:00 p.m. on Friday afternoon. The decision was confirmed to Joe Davis of scoutsfocus.com by Carr’s high school coach. After some debate on whether Carr actually committed, a source close to Seton Hall confirmed the commitment to CBSSports.com.

Carr owns a 48-inch vertical leap and some of the best dribbling ability in the country. He can get into the lane and finish against bigger players, and use his quickness and athleticism to get baskets in transition. Carr creates space to get open shots along the perimeter with his ability to change directions.

Carr chose Seton Hall over Baylor, South Florida, Memphis and others.

 
 
 
 
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