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Tag:Chris Walker
Posted on: October 28, 2011 10:48 am
Edited on: October 28, 2011 7:41 pm
 

New recruiting model garners favorable reaction



By Jeff Borzello

Recruiting needed to change. Everyone knew it – including the NCAA.

On Thursday, the NCAA Board of Directors adopted a new recruiting model for men’s basketball, changing or adjusting six major rules. More importantly, the rules will go into effect within the next several months, meaning we won’t have to wait two or three years for the changes – like most of the NCAA’s changes.

The two biggest changes, according to most people, are the deregulation of contact between coaches and recruits, and the fact official visits can now begin January 1 of a prospect’s junior year. Other major adjustments included opening up April for two weekends to coaches, while trimming July into three four-day periods. On-campus evaluations during official visits and contact at a recruit’s high school during their junior year are also permitted under the new model.

The changes will affect everyone, from college coaches to AAU coaches to high school coaches, as well as high school players and their parents. All of the changes seem geared towards speeding up the recruiting process and making it more involved at an earlier age. With the number of recruits making early decisions nowadays, it makes sense – too many kids were committing without going on official visits or getting enough evaluation time from coaches.

While the feedback has been generally favorable from all the parties involved – although many said nothing touched on agents and runners – not everyone is happy with each of the rule changes. To get a true feel of what each party thought, we reached out to 10 people – college coaches, AAU coaches, high school recruits and parents – to see what they think. Here are the interviewees:

  • Jamie Dixon, head coach, Pittsburgh
  • Josh Pastner, head coach, Memphis
  • Paul Hewitt, head coach, George Mason
  • Chris Walker, No. 5 prospect in 2013
  • Brannen Greene, No. 16 prospect in 2013
  • Dinos Trigonis, AAU coach, Belmont Shore
  • Matt Ramker, AAU director, Florida Rams
  • Marland Lowe, AAU coach, Texas PRO
  • Arisa Johnson, mother of Jaylon Tate, No. 73 prospect in 2013
  • Kelana Rivera, mother of D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera, No. 38 prospect in 2012 and Georgetown commit

We went rule-by-rule with each person to get a brief response or thought on the rule.

Contact is mostly deregulated starting June 15 after a recruit’s sophomore year. Coaches will be allowed to send unlimited text messages, make unlimited phone calls and send unlimited private messages via social media websites.

Dixon: “We already had unlimited email, so it won’t be that much different. The monitoring of it was the basis for it. The lost time allotted for it was becoming endless. We were having violations where a kid texted you, but you thought it was an email, and you responded with a text.”

Pastner: “95 percent of kids would rather text than talk on the phone. You find out earlier who’s interested in you. I’d rather the kid tell us he’s not interested. It puts some responsibility on the kid. There needs to be honest communication.”

Hewitt: “I think anything you can do to put college personnel in the lives of these kids helps. Not that everyone needs that type of guidance, to explain to them what eligibility means, classes, official visits, rules. Those types of things, if we can have college personnel in the recruiting process, it definitely take some of the mystery out of it.”

Walker: “I think it’s going to be good, plus crazy. I’m going to get blown up everyday – all day now. I don’t care though, I ignore people half the time but it will be alright.”

Greene: “I’m really going to see who wants me, but it might get a little overwhelming.”

Trigonis: “I think it’s a dumb thing. Instead of unlimited contact, should give parents power to decide contact. Form where parent sets up parameters for contact. It’s a recipe for disaster. I don’t mind the more contact, I think they needed to give more. But how can you go from no contact to unlimited contact?”

Lowe: “I think that all the kids and parents better make sure they have an unlimited texting plan. It’s good for the coaches to be able to communicate with the kids, establish an initial relationship. You have to be careful, though, kids have to put their phone down sometimes.”

Johnson: “It’s a bit excessive because it can be overwhelming when you have multiple coaches calling. It’s going to get out of control; it’s going to be too much for the kids to keep up with. It’s going to get to a point where a lot of these coaches are going to be ignored. They’re starting to feel a little annoyed. The attention at the beginning, they welcome it. But after awhile, it gets irritating. The relationship will start to break down.”

Rivera: “I think there has to be some sort of cut-off times or maximum number of calls with the player. Maybe unlimited contact with parents. They would likely tire of the recruiting process quickly, if they are constantly fielding calls. They may become more distracted and consumed with that as opposed to school, practices, family, church, etc.”

Two weekends in April will be opened up to college coaches.

Dixon: “I was a huge proponent of that. Certain coaches prefer to not have April, because they get to see kids during the year that no one else sees.”

Pastner: “I think it’s good, it’s all positives. You can see more prospects at once. Evaluate.”

Hewitt: “I think it’s a very smart move. You look at a guy taking over a job. I think it helps a coach to go out there. It will help on cutting down on transfers. You watch a kid throughout his high school, highest level of competition with their travel team. Now you may have him go against another 3-4-5 division-I players. It’s a more accurate evaluation, and that hopefully leads to fewer transfers, which will help APR.”

Walker: “It’s good because the people without offers and much exposure could get more exposure and offers and opportunities, so that’s a good look.”

Greene: “I really like that addition. I think it’s positive because kids get two extra chances to impress the college coaches.”

Ramker: “I personally like having just July. It was more of the true essence of summer basketball. April will be better for coaches, evaluations heading into July. I don’t think it’s a bad change.”

Lowe: “There won’t be as many transfers as there have been in the past. I think it’s a great opportunity for the schools overall. It’s too easy to make errors when you can watch them in July only.”

Johnson: “When they all have to wait until July, and they all come out at one time, it can be overwhelming. At those tournaments, to see all those coaches lined up against the wall like that, it can be intimidating and uncomfortable. It takes away their concentration and focus. They’re trying to figure out which coaches are there, and who’s there to see me. The kids will be a little more focused and less distracted.”

Rivera: “That way, the players aren’t feeling the need to be in every single event in July. Trying to fit everything into a couple of weeks in July adds stress to families and on the players’ bodies. Not to mention, it would likely be better for coaches and their families as well.”

July will be trimmed to three four-day periods, as opposed to two 10-day periods

Dixon: “I think it’s far better. If people saw how few evaluations we had other than July, people are often times surprised. They’re few and far between, and not to the level of July. A high school game, you’re not always going to see someone playing against someone at his level, and that’s your evaluation. Offers are being made in April, and as head coaches you’re seeing them even more rarely.”

Hewitt: “I think it’s a very positive step for the kids that are playing. When they start playing 10 days in a row, it leads to injuries. Overuse, stress-related injuries.”

Walker: “It causes us to get more rest because last summer I was tired as hell from all the back-to-back tourneys.”

Greene: “I think it’s beneficial to the college coaches and their health and well-being. For us players, I think it’s an OK rule. But I personally like the two-period July better. I just liked continuously playing in front of college coaches.”

Trigonis: “You’re going from 20 to 12 days. How does that help the smaller schools? That’s a big advantage for the bigger schools. Why not just make it four straight days? Ultimately what they’ve done, they’ve killed the smaller, regional events. Why does it have to be, I give so I have to take? It’s childish. It really is.”

Ramker: “A lot of the tournaments we do to keep kids busy. This will give us three tournaments, won’t have to play just for the sake of playing. Teams will be sharper, kids won’t be as tired.”

Johnson: “When you just have those couple of opportunities, it adds more pressure. It creates more pressure. You think, ‘this is my chance, this is my shot.’ You really lose the concept of team ball. It’s not about team anymore; it’s about the individual player, because you’re looking at limited opportunities.”

Official visits can begin January 1 of a recruit’s junior year, with travel expenses for the recruit and his family being paid for by the school

Dixon: “The influence of third-party people was magnified by unofficial visits. From the end of the high school season to visits were a six-month period where it was all the paying for scouting services, paying for exhibition games, paying for campers – all based around trying to get kids to their campus. Now you can bring both parents. We were empowering the middleman. I had hoped the official visits would start in April. We wouldn’t want one of our players to visit NBA teams during our season.”

Pastner: “A lot of that has something to do with strategy. When do you bring him in? Is it too early? You don’t want to bring him in too early, if he’s not ready to commit. And if he does, that’s a long time to keep him committed. Kids change their minds a lot these days.”

Hewitt: “That will benefit the highest-profile programs. I think what will happen is that the highest-level programs will be more able to get a kid to commit early. As for the parents, that’s the best thing they ever could have done. Bringing them into the process, that’s a huge step in the right direction.”

Greene: “I absolutely love that part of the new rule. I was planning on deciding in mid-December, but now I’m going to push it back a month so I can take a few official visits.”

Ramker: “It’s very necessary for parents to go on the visits with their kids. Low socioeconomic backgrounds, parents need to be involved in the decision. Need to sit with the coaches, help their kids make their decisions. That’s the best of all of them. It will cut down on a lot of shadiness. Kids can make decisions earlier; if they know where they want to go, they can get that out of the way.”

Johnson: “I have mixed feelings about that. Kids are being recruited earlier and earlier, and the kids are feeling the pressure that they need to commit early. We’ve had coaches ask us, ‘are you ready to commit today?’ – on an unofficial visit. And we feel it’s still a little early. Kids are committing sooner because they’re afraid another kid is going to commit sooner. It’s part of the whole recruiting process – and we’re kind of getting away from that. Years ago, it wasn’t like that. It wasn’t all this big rush and pressure to commit so early in your high school years and career. You lose out on something, the process where I feel you should be able to be recruited, you should be able to get a chance and visit schools and develop relationships, and get a good sense of what the schools have to offer. You could compare different schools and campuses. You could compare and get a feel, hopefully find a school that’s a good fit. You’re not going off the name or reputation of the coach, that’s all a part of the process. If you have this pressure, you’ll miss out. That will help if you can move it up and do it sooner.”

Rivera: “We had a very short time to get officials in this year before practice and everything started. Had we been given the option, we would have definitely gotten a couple in last winter or spring.”

On-campus evaluations during official visits will be permitted

Dixon: “It takes out another rule that was very hard to monitor. It’s almost ridiculous. My office overlooks the floor, so we had three different types of shades put in. There was a push to have actual tryouts, and I was really against it. I thought that would be bad press.”

Hewitt: “I think it’s good to watch them, and it’s not exactly a tryout. Watching a kid workout against your team, it will help reduce misses and fewer transfers.”

Greene: “Sure, why not? I would love for a college coach to be able to see the hard work I put in.”

Ramker: “I didn’t really see a reason why they couldn’t do that in the first place. They all play pick-up anyway, the coaches just couldn’t watch. The coaches could do everything else with them; I don’t know why they couldn’t watch them play pick-up. The changes cut out a lot of the shadiness.”

Lowe: I think it’s fine if the kid wants to do it. You’ll have kids that want to see how they fit in; other kids don’t want to expose themselves. I think it’s good if they want to do it, but not mandatory.”

Johnson: “I think that helps with being able to assess and evaluate. When coaches come out and see you practice or with the AAU teams, that can pique or develop your interest even more. But to be able to watch them and have them come on campus and play with the team – that adds another perspective on how to evaluate the player. And it gives the player a better feel for it as well. I see benefits and advantages on both ends. You can see where you need to be, ultimately, when you leave high school. This is what you’re preparing for.”

Rivera: “That may help the player with making his decision, by having a good feel for the players they could possible be playing with.”

Some contact at a recruit’s high school will be permitted beginning during a prospect’s junior year

Dixon: “It’s a sign of things, of where they are now. Kids are committing during their junior years often times, and so now you’re going to be starting with contact their junior year. The monitoring of it was a gray area. What one school considered a casual greeting, another considered a 20-minute sit-down.”

Pastner: “It will eliminate some of the gray area.”

Hewitt: “I think that’s very intelligent. That’s a very smart rule. If that rule is in effect, Bruce Pearl is still at Tennessee. What it does is help demystify the recruiting process and what you have to do to get to college. It opens it up for the family to ask questions. The more you can have that conversation, the more you put at the front of a kid’s mind. In the past, you’ve seen a kid gets bad advisement from someone, he comes back and he got the wrong information or took the wrong class.”

Ramker: “I thought that was an awful rule, that college coaches could go to a kid’s high school and pretend like they don’t even know them. It will help build a rapport, coaches get a feel for the players, players get a feel for the coaches and parents get a feel. It will cut down on transfers, lead to better evaluations by the players and the coaches. That’s been needed. I think that’s a great change. Coaches need to talk to the kids; kids need to figure out what they want to do.”

Lowe: “It forms a relationship early on. It helps starting to develop a relationship early, as long as it’s not too much contact.”

Johnson: “I think when you want to start trying to get a good vibe from who this person is, who they are as a coach, as a man. You need to do that through interaction, you need to do that through communication. The sooner you can start that, the better. That way, you are able to start building that relationship. It can only enhance how both parties feel about one another, and it’s not limited to I can call you or I can text you, or tweet you. I can see you and talk to you, face-to-face. I like that. I think that works. I don’t see anything negative unless there are several coaches there and they’re all waiting to talk to specific players. I can see that getting out of control, a little uncomfortable, maybe a little intimidating. If there are seven coaches there and they’re all waiting to talk to this one player, I can see that being a turnoff. They really don’t want to talk to all these people right after playing.”

Rivera: “I don’t see anything wrong with that either. As long as there are limitations, which I’m sure there would be. Maybe how many times they can visit, which is already in place I believe. And how long or private the contact is. For instance, if a coach talked with a recruit 10-15 minutes after a big game in the gym, seems OK to me.”

Photo: Blue Devil Nation, US Presswire, Recruiting Spotlight

Posted on: September 26, 2011 3:38 pm
 

Notebook: Chris Walker sets decision date

By Jeff Borzello

It’s not often a junior sets a decision date, but Chris Walker announced Sunday he would be committing on November 15.

“It’s my first game,” Walker told CBSSports.com.

Walker, ranked No. 5 by CBSSports.com in the class of 2013, will choose between Florida, Connecticut, Kentucky, Florida State, Ohio State, Kansas, Kansas State, Baylor and Memphis.

When we spoke with Walker two weeks ago, he said that Florida, Florida state, Kentucky, Ohio State and Kansas were standing out to him as a top five. He has taken trips to Florida and Florida State, and plans to go to Kansas for its Midnight Madness festivities. Memphis head coach Josh Pastner went to Walker’s high school on Monday to watch him work out.

Walker, a 6-foot-10 power forward from Holmes County (Fla.), has improved drastically over the past year. He runs the floor exceptionally well and knows how to make plays in transition. Walker can knock down short jumpers or drive to the rim, and he is also very solid on the defensive end due to his defense and athleticism.

Poythress cuts list to four, eliminates Duke

Duke and Alex Poythress were associated with each other over the summer on multiple occasions. There was mutual interest from both parties, and then the two made news with the Blue Devils offering him a scholarship during an AAU tournament.

It looks like that chapter of Poythress’ recruitment is over, though, as he cut Duke from his list on Monday morning.

Poythress is down to Kentucky, Florida, Vanderbilt and Memphis. The 6-foot-8 forward from Northeast (Tenn.) has visited Vanderbilt already, and will take trips to Florida and Memphis in the coming weeks. Poythress will also head to Kentucky for its midnight madness.

Poythress is ranked No. 14 in CBSSports.com’s Top 100.

Commitment Catch-up

It was a busy weekend for commitments, as several high-major prospects made their decisions.

  • Elijah Macon – West Virginia
  • Christian Sanders – Stanford
  • Bronson Koenig – Wisconsin
  • Tyler Cavanaugh – Wake Forest
  • Waverly Austin – South Florida
  • Kodi Justice – Arizona State
  • Nolan Berry – Butler
  • Buddy Hield – Oklahoma
  • Anthony Clemmons – Iowa

Chris Jones advances process

Although he was overshadowed on the New Jersey Playaz by plenty of high-major prospects, Chris Jones still managed to get noticed by plenty of scouts and coaches.

Jones, a 6-foot-4 guard from Teaneck (N.J.), is a very good scorer who uses his size and strength to score at the rim. He has good athleticism and is effective off the dribble.

He took an unofficial visit to Manhattan last week, and also went to Towson officially this past weekend.

“That was cool,” Jones said of Manhattan. “They have a real experienced staff with Scott Padgett playing in the NBA. And Manhattan is close so that was a plus.”

Of Towson, Jones said: “It was a good visit. I like the campus. The coaches were honest with me, and I had fun with the guys.”

He trips to Siena this weekend, and is also looking to set up a visit to La Salle. Massachusetts is in the mix as well.

“There is no real set time,” Jones said of a decision. “I’m really just evaluating all of them.”

Posted on: September 13, 2011 1:32 pm
 

Chris Walker going through the process

By Jeff Borzello

While most of the focus right now is on the recruitments of players in the class of 2012, several juniors are making their way through the process as well.

Chris Walker is one of those 2013 prospects ramping up their recruitment this fall, and sources have indicated that people in his circle could be pushing for a decision sooner rather than later.

“It all depends on how close me and the coaches get,” Walker said on Tuesday. “Me meeting all the staffs and stuff like that.”

The 6-foot-10 Holmes County (Fla.) product did add that he could make a decision soon, though.

Right now, there are five schools standing out for his services: Florida, Florida State, Kentucky, Ohio State and Kansas.

“Not a final five yet,” Walker said. “I got interest still in other programs.”

Alabama, Louisville, Baylor, Tennessee, Virginia Tech, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Connecticut, Texas, Texas Tech and others have also offered the power forward.

Walker tripped to Florida recently, and said it was great. He will also be at Florida State this weekend on an unofficial visit.

One interesting development in his visit schedule is midnight madness. Originally, he was planning to be a part of Kentucky’s Big Blue Madness. That has changed, though.

“I’m not going to Kentucky madness because they’re going to be more worried about signing 2012 people,” Walker said. “So I think I’m going to Kansas [Midnight Madness].”

Walker has improved drastically over the past year. His ability to run the floor and make plays in transition is exceptional for someone his size. Walker can face-up and score with short jumpers or drives to the rim. At the other end, he makes an impact with blocks and rebounds because of his length and athleticism.

He ranks No. 5 in CBSSports.com’s Top 100.

Photo: UKSportsInfo.com

Posted on: August 9, 2011 1:41 pm
 

Chris Walker has five schools standing out early



By Jeff Borzello

Coming off an outstanding spring and summer, Chris Walker was running out of opponents to dominate.

Walker ranks No. 6 in CBSSports.com’s Top 100 in 2013, using his athleticism and length to go from a very good prospect to a can’t-miss recruit.At Adidas Nations, Walker went up against Steven Adams, the New Zealand native who was drawing rave reviews for his play out in Harbor City, Calif. The 6-foot-10 Walker didn’t back down, though, racking up 24 points and 10 rebounds, once again proving he is one of the best prospects in the country. He also went for 15 points and seven boards against Andre Drummond in the Championship game.

“It was just me playing hard,” Walker told me in June. “I tried to show everyone what I could do. I put in the work. I improved my game tremendously.”

Not surprisingly, plenty of schools are in the mix for the Holmes County (Fla.) forward.

More on Recruiting

Alabama, Louisville, Baylor and Tennessee called him immediately after the July live period ended, while Ohio State, Florida, Kansas, Florida State, Virginia Tech, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Connecticut, Texas, Texas Tech and others have all offered.

One school noticeably absent from that list of offers is Kentucky. The Wildcats have offered juniors Kasey Hill and Malik Price-Martin, who also play in the Florida Rams AAU program.

“They may offer soon,” Walker said.

Although it’s still early in the process, five schools are standing out for the rising junior.

“I’m really feeling Florida, Kentucky, Ohio State, Kansas and Florida State,” he said.

With Adidas Nations over, he plans on taking trips to Kentucky, Ohio State, Florida, Kansas and Alabama.

“I want to get a feel, for now,” Walker said.

While he is only entering his junior season, Walker did not say he planned on waiting until his senior campaign to make a college decision.

“I don’t know yet,” he said. “Whenever I feel comfortable, I will commit.”

Photo: Five-Star Basketball

Posted on: July 26, 2011 2:07 pm
Edited on: July 27, 2011 11:36 am
 

Las Vegas Wrapup: Top Performers, Notables


By Jeff Borzello

LAS VEGAS – For five days, Las Vegas went from being the gathering place for various vices to the epicenter of AAU basketball (during the day, at least). With the Adidas Super 64 and the Fab 48, the majority of the best players and teams in the country descended on the desert for two of the summer’s best tournaments. The individual match-ups that took place at the Super 64 were unparalleled, while the Fab 48 featured plenty of top talent as well.

At the Super 64, the final four consisted of Indiana Elite, Dream Vision, Utah Pump N Run and Texas Assault. Behind the play of Jordan Loveridge, Utah Pump N Run defeated the Atlanta Celtics, Compton Magic and Michigan Mustangs in the tournament. EBC Elite made a run to the Elite Eight with upsets over Family First and DC Assault, while the Nor Cal Pharaohs also made a surprising run.

The Fab 48 was marred somewhat by two brawls, but the Cinderella stories by Wisconsin Swing and Team Breakdown to reach the Final Four were fun to watch. In the end, though, Ishmail Wainright and the KC 76ers rolled to the championship, dispatching of anyone in their path. The favorites heading into the event included the Oakland Soldiers, Belmont Shore, NJ Playaz and Mac Irvin Fire – all three were gone by the final eight, with the Soldiers and Playaz getting shocked in the playoff opener.

Top Performers

More on Recruiting

Ishmail Wainright, 2013, KC 76ers: Arguably the most impressive overall performer of the week, Wainright led his team to a surprising Fab 48 title. The muscular junior has always been a great defender and energy guy, but he carried the 76ers offensively, including getting the upper hand on Jabari Parker in a head-to-head battle.

Shabazz Muhammad, 2012, Dream Vision: Muhammad had his slow games, but overall, he again showed why he is the best player in the class. He carried Dream Vision to the title game, getting baskets in a variety of ways. Simply unstoppable when going to the rim.

Andre Drummond, 2012, Connecticut Basketball Club: When Drummond is motivated or goes against another top player, he is outstanding. He beat Kaleb Tarczewski head-to-head, adding to his hit list amongst the top big men in the country.

Javan Felix, 2012, New Orleans Elite: With the point guard class down this year, the demand for someone like Felix becomes much higher – especially when he plays like he did this week. He was knocking down shots off screens and was also getting to the rim.

Chris McCullough, 2014, Team Scan 15s: Although many people got their first glimpse of McCullough this week, he is certainly a top-10 player in his class. He is long and athletic, and has a ceiling that is simply through the roof. Raw for now, but his name will be heard for a long time.

Brandon Ashley, 2012, Oakland Soldiers: Ashley has consistently been one of the most impressive players this summer, and this week was no different. He scored around the rim, ran the floor and showed a willingness to handle the ball and knockdown face-up jumpers.

Kaleb Tarczewski, 2012, New England Playaz: Didn’t get the upper hand against Andre Drummond, but he played well the rest of the week. Most of his points come on dunks or layups around the rim, but his defense, work ethic and rebounding ability bode well.

Buddy Hield, 2012, Kansas Pray and Play Players: Overshadowed slightly by Perry Ellis, Hield was the one that shined throughout the week. Hield is a big-time offensive player that can knock down shots from behind the arc or drive the lane and finish in impressive fashion.

Denzel Valentine, 2012, Michigan Mustangs: He wasn’t that impressive at the NBPA Top 100 camp in June, but Valentine has looked good in the two Adidas events in July. He knows how to handle the ball in traffic and uses his body exceptionally well when driving the lane.

Marcus Smart, 2012, Texas Assault: Smart consistently put the Assault on his back at both ends of the floor, and his energy and nonstop motor permeated the rest of the team en route to the semifinals. Smart is an outstanding defender who has steadily improved his shooting and ball-handling 

Other Notables:

Indiana Elite made a run to the Final Four, but no one in particular stood out overall. D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera had his moments, while Jeremy Hollowell was also solid . . . Kuran Iverson is supremely talented, but his lack of interest on defense make some question his work ethic . . . With Drummond on the inside, Kris Dunn was able to make plays in transition and on the perimeter . . . For Belmont Shore, Katin Reinhardt continued to improve his point guard ability, while Grant Jerrett showed his versatile offensive game . . . New York guard Isaiah Whitehead knows how to make tough shots, plain and simple . . . Joe Rahon, the younger brother of San Diego State guard James Rahon, continues to impress. He can hit shots and run a team . . . Going up against Drummond, Coreontae DeBerry held his own defensively . . . Nate Britt again looked good, initiating offense and showing great body control in the lane . . . Kentucky native Taylor Barnette is fun to watch when his shot is falling; his range is unparalleled . . . Got my first glances at Grant Verhoeven and Christian Wood. Verhoeven is a very good defender and scores in the lane, while Wood needs room to grow but is certainly talented . . . One coach told me Chris Walker reminds him of a young Antonio McDyess . . . Charles Mitchell doesn’t have ideal size for a big man, but his hands and length make up for it . . . Mitchell's teammate, Chris Bolden, showed off an improved driving game to go with his knockdown shooting . . . 2013 forward Jordan Bell had 17 blocks in one game. That’s ridiculous . . . The attacking ability of Montay Brandon is impressive; if he gets a jumper, look out . . . One of the breakout players of the event was Jordan Loveridge, who led the Utah Pump N Run team to the semifinals – he knows how to score . . . Double Pump Elite’s Tyrone Wallace is quickly rising up the point guard ranks – he is 6-foot-4 and long . . . Texas shooter Phil Forte simply doesn’t miss . . . Team Breakdown didn’t have too many studs, but guard Brandon Channer used his strength and finishing ability to provide a boost . . . Slightly overshadowed by Chris Thomas’ antics, but Colorado commit Wesley Gordon is a big man who moves well without the ball and can finish . . . Sanjay Lumpkin is a tough matchup for guards at 6-foot-6, and also held his own against forward Gavin Thurman.

Photos: Kansas City Star (Wainwright), 247 Sports (Felix), Utah Pump N Run (Loveridge)

Posted on: June 28, 2011 10:53 am
Edited on: June 28, 2011 11:17 am
 

Chris Walker with quick ascent to the top

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By Jeff Borzello

Unlike some of his counterparts in the class of 2013, Chris Walker’s rise to the top-tier of the rankings has not been a long process.

Walker’s athleticism and rebounding ability have always been attractive, but when he grew to 6-foot-10 and still improved his all-around game, he became a can’t-miss prospect.

“It was just me playing hard,” Walker said. “I tried to show everyone what I could do. I put in the work. I improved my game tremendously.”

His improvement is obvious immediately. While he still needs to work on his post moves, Walker has impressed with his ability to run the floor and make plays in transition. He can face-up and score with short jumpers or drives to the rim. Because of his length, he is a good shot-blocker.

The big man from Holmes County, Fla., has heard from a number of schools, including Kentucky, Florida, Florida State, Syracuse, Memphis, North Carolina State, Ohio State, Tennessee, Texas, Alabama, Georgia and Kansas.

Five are standing out right now: Kentucky, Florida, Syracuse, Memphis and Kansas.

“I want a college that, off the court, makes you a better person,” Walker said. “I also want a great relationship with the coaches.”

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