Posted on: March 1, 2012 4:47 pm
Edited on: March 1, 2012 4:48 pm

Five-star junior Al Freeman down to two: KU, Nova

By Jeff Borzello

In October, five-star junior Allerik Freeman “trimmed” his list to a top 12. After a couple quiet months on the recruiting front, Freeman cut his list on Thursday afternoon.

Freeman, ranked No. 14 in the class of 2013, is down to two: Villanova and Kansas.

“Great coaches, great programs,” Freeman told CBSSports.com. “They’re recruiting me the hardest and I feel the most comfortable with these two.”

Freeman is a strong 6-foot-4 guard from Olympic (N.C.) who improved drastically last spring and summer. He uses his body to score around the rim, and he’s a good playmaker with the pass or when running the break. Freeman also expanded his game to include a more consistent jump shot and 3-point shot.

Right now, ‘Nova and Kansas are neck and neck -- and he doesn't have plans to make a decision.

"I don't have a timetable," Freeman said. "Just whenever the time is right. 

“They are both even."

Posted on: February 10, 2012 11:25 am

Penn State lands top-75 junior Brandon Austin

By Jeff Borzello

First-year Penn State head coach Pat Chambers already made a major impact in the class of 2013 with guard Geno Thorpe committing to the Nittany Lions in November.

On Thursday night, Chambers pulled off another junior coup. Brandon Austin, a top-75 wing from Imhotep Charter (Pa.) pledged to Penn State.

He made the announcement on Twitter: “I just committed to Penn State!”

Austin, a 6-foot-6 prospect, is one of the more versatile perimeter players in the country. He can play three positions, with the ability to handle the ball, run the break and knock down shots. Along with Thorpe, Austin should be a key recruit for Chambers.

Austin had plenty of suitors in pursuit, including Rutgers, Villanova, Saint Joseph’s, Temple, Syracuse and others.

This is just another quality pickup from the Philadelphia area due to Chambers’ deep roots in the area. Next season, he will also have the services of Trenton-area forward Brandon Taylor and Southern Mississippi transfer D.J. Newbill, a former Philadelphia high school standout. While the results may not show this season, Chambers has something brewing in Happy Valley. 

Posted on: January 24, 2012 3:00 pm
Edited on: January 24, 2012 3:01 pm

Notebook: Balamou getting high-major interest

By Jeff Borzello

Chris Obekpa is the marquee player on Our Savior New American (N.Y.), but college coaches have been surprised when they go to check out the Nigerian big man.

Obekpa isn’t the only high-major player on the team. Felix Balamou, a native of Guinea West Africa, has been impressive throughout the season.

“He’s one of the most underrecruited kids in the country,” OSNA assistant coach Eric Jaklitsch said. “He’s exploded his senior year.”

There is a chance Balamou will have to reclassify to the class of 2013 and do a post-grad year at a prep school due to academics. However, that will likely only increase his recruiting attention.

St. John’s, Providence and Virginia Tech are already among the schools showing interest.

“He’s 6-foot-3 with a 6-foot-6 wingspan and a nice set of athleticism,” Jaklitsch said. “He has a chance to be really special.”

Brantley plays different role away from AAU

When he’s playing with BABC on the AAU circuit, junior Jaylen Brantley is one of the best 3-point shooters in the country. At Wilbraham and Monson (Mass.), things are a little different.

Brantley is the focal point of the defense, expected to carry most of the load offensively. Nerlens Noel, Wayne Selden, Georges Niang and co. are not there to help him out.

“There’s not a lot of open shots,” Brantley said. “Our team is not as gifted as BABC, so I’m trying to be a leader.”

Brantley currently has offers from Syracuse, Florida, Louisville, Georgetown, Cincinnati, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, Virginia, Richmond, Rhode Island, Iowa State and Missouri. Connecticut is interested.

He’s visited Georgetown and UConn.

“I’m looking for a good coach, a team that’s a contender, and academics,” Brantley said.

Former New Mexico commit exploring options

At 7-foot-2, Chier Ajou is bound to get plenty of attention from college coaches. The questions surrounding his recruitment have only forced more schools to get involved.

“I don’t know where he’s going to end up,” St. Thomas More (Conn.) coach Jere Quinn said.

Ajou is a native of the Sudan who is also related to Chicago Bulls star Luol Deng and former Connecticut big man Ajou Deng. He was once committed to New Mexico, but the two have parted ways.

“I haven’t talked to them,” Ajou said.

There are some academic situations with Ajou that he is looking to fix at St. Thomas More, but for now, plenty of schools are in the mix.

Oklahoma, Central Connecticut State and Cincinnati are among the “eclectic ray of schools” that have talked to Quinn about him.

“Everyone asks about him,” Quinn said 

Notes: Torin Childs-Harris is hearing from Hofstra, Quinnipiac, Central Connecticut State and Sacred Heart . . . A.J. English has interest from Duquesne, Delaware, Towson and others.

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 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 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.

Posted on: January 2, 2012 10:38 am

Notebook: Kasey Hill commits to Florida

By Jeff Borzello

While everyone was focused on their New Year’s Eve plans, Florida snuck in and grabbed a commitment from the class of 2013.

Kasey Hill, a 6-foot-1 junior from Montverde Academy, committed to the Gators on Saturday evening. Hill chose Billy Donovan over Kentucky, Louisville, Florida State, North Carolina State and others.

Florida Rams AAU coach Matt Ramker confirmed the news to CBSSports.com.

Hill is ranked No. 10 in CBSSports.com’s Top 100 for 2013. He shot up the rankings over the summer, leading his AAU team to a championship at the Adidas Invitational in Indianapolis. His performance there had some people calling him the best point guard in the country. 

Hill is virtually unstoppable at times, using his speed and explosiveness to make plays in transition or get to the rim in a half-court setting. He has a very good first step that enables him to beat his defender off the bounce and he has a variety of scoring moves in the lane. Hill is also a solid passer with good vision.

He is the Gators’ first commitment from the junior class.

Indiana picks up junior Luke Fischer

It looks like Luke Fischer was among the growing number of people impressed by Indiana’s big-time win over Ohio State on Saturday.

Shortly after Fischer watched the Hoosiers beat the Buckeyes at Assembly Hall, Fischer decided to go ahead and commit to Tom Crean’s program.

Fischer, a 6-foot-10 junior forward, chose Indiana over Iowa, Creighton and others.

“I’m just really excited to be a part of this program,” he told the Indianapolis Star.  “I just think it’s really cool to see where the program is today and the directions it is heading. I want to be a part of that.”

Fischer joins Colin Hartman and Devin Davis in Indiana’s class of 2013.

Jefferson trims list to five

Despite being a five-star prospect, Amile Jefferson has played his recruitment pretty close to the vest. Over the weekend, though, he gave some insight as to where he stands right now.

Jefferson revealed his final five schools, according to Philly.com: North Carolina State, Villanova, Ohio State, Kentucky and Temple.

According to the report, Duke is also still a potential destination even though the Blue Devils are not in his final five.

Jefferson is a 6-foot-9 scoring forward from Friends Central (Pa.). He is one of the most difficult matchups in the country, and is extremely tough to stop along the baseline. Jefferson ranks No. 13 in our top 100.

Photo: Adidas

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com