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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

-College Hoops Recruits Still Making Moves-Hillis' agent takes responsibility for advising not to play sick - Indians ready to walk from Sizemore -

The 2011-2012 Wooden Award Watch List
andy katz
Tim Abromaitis, 6-foot-8, Sr., F, Notre Dame
"He's a great shooter. He's a deceptive scorer off the dribble. Should have a breakout year with Ben Hansbrough graduating. He could be the focal point of their offense this year."

Harrison Barnes, 6-8, So., F, UNC
"He has the ability to take his game to places most can't. I think his early-season experience dealing with hype and how he finished is significant. Not a lot of guys could have done that and taken their game to another level and start dominating. He has the ability to go to a level that few can in college. He can manufacture better than most to get his own shot."

Will Barton, 6-6, So., G, Memphis
"He has a really good feel for the game and is good at a lot of things. He's not great at any one thing. He has great size for a wing and is very effective at attacking the basket. But he is a streaky good perimeter shooter."

Dee Bost, 6-2, Sr., G, Mississippi State
"He has terrific physical skills. He probably should have stayed in the draft two years ago, because he would have made a team."

William Buford, 6-5, Sr., G, Ohio State
"He's long, athletic and he does things easily. He's just one of those guys who does things easily. He's so gifted and talented."

Allen Crabbe, 6-6, So., G, California
"Allen's ability to create space for his jumper makes him significantly more dangerous than a spot-up shooter. What remains to be seen is if he has added getting to the basket to his repertoire."

Aaron Craft, 6-2, So., G, Ohio State
"He's the guy you hate to play against but love to have on your team. Toughness and leadership are so hard to find today, and he has it."

Marcus Denmon, 6-3, Sr., G, Missouri
"He's a great competitor. He wills his team to victory. He's a tough player and can score in a variety ways and really shoot well from the 3-point area. He's a very good leader for his team."

Festus Ezeli, 6-11, Sr., C, Vanderbilt
"He might have the best chance at a long career of anyone in the league. He is older and a legit NBA center."

Ashton Gibbs, 6-2, Sr., G, Pittsburgh
"He's a great shooter. With Brad Wanamaker gone, he'll have the ball in his hands even more. He won't be just a receiver. He'll be much more of a playmaker. One of the most underrated players in the country."

Michael Glover, 6-7, Sr., F, Iona
"Michael Glover is a mismatch nightmare. He's too fast and quick for bigs and too strong and tough for guards. He has that air of confidence you can't teach. He has an excellent understanding of how to feed off of teammates."

Drew Gordon, 6-9, Sr., F, New Mexico
"Drew Gordon is a force in the paint. He scores and blocks shots. But his rebounding numbers are what makes him attractive to the NBA scouts, and they are off the charts."

Draymond Green, 6-7, Sr., F, Michigan State
"He's as versatile a player as anybody in the country. He's a miniature Barkley with a good body, good skills, and knows how to play. He's a kid that loves to play with great energy."

JaMychal Green, 6-8, Sr., F, Alabama
"Green is an athletic, front-line player who likely will get more touches this year. He has always been very versatile."

Jorge Gutierrez, 6-3, Sr., G, California
"He has improved tremendously over the last two years, adding an outside game to his elusiveness. His toughness also has to be reckoned with."

Tim Hardaway Jr., 6-5, So., G, Michigan
"He's a great shooter. He has advanced his game and hit the spot-up 3-pointer and has learned to create. Really tough to deal with because he's so long."

Elias Harris, 6-7, Jr., F, Gonzaga
"Harris is an athletic, explosive player who is most dangerous doing three things: (1) sprinting the floor for dunks and layups; (2) facing up on the block and attacking; (3) hitting the offensive boards. These traits reward him with frequent trips to the line, and to top it off, he is capable of hurting you from the 3-point line if left open."

John Henson, 6-11, Jr., F, North Carolina
"He is extraordinarily long. He impacts the game in a variety of ways with his length and shot-blocking. He can impact the game in ways that most can't. If his skill has developed in the offseason and become more consistent with his perimeter shot, then that's a game-changer. His ability to alter the game in the X-factor areas makes him unique."

Tu Holloway, 6-0, Sr., G, Xavier
"Holloway combines strength and speed with an exceptional ability to penetrate and make plays for his teammates. Unlike many point guards today, he is a tremendous deep shooter, which makes him impossible to defend with one player."

Robbie Hummel, 6-8, Sr., F, Purdue
"If healthy, he's as solid as anybody. He's a winner. He can play the 3, the 4 or the 2. He's a tough matchup. It will all come down to whether or not he's healthy."

Joe Jackson, 6-1, So., G, Memphis
"He is elusive and has explosive speed. He's extremely effective in the open court. He has gotten better at running a team and creating for others."

Scoop Jardine, 6-2, Sr., G, Syracuse
"He's been inconsistent at times, but when he's at his best, Syracuse was the best team in our league. The Orange go as he goes. If he can be consistent, they can have the best team in our conference."

John Jenkins, 6-3, Jr., G, Vanderbilt
"He is the best shooter in the SEC and maybe the nation. He puts it down some, too, but is just deadly when he has a good look."

Orlando Johnson, 6-5, Sr., G, UC Santa Barbara
"He's one of the most gifted offensive players I have ever coached against. He's extremely skilled with a killer instinct, and he makes big shots."

Darius Johnson-Odom, 6-2, Sr., G, Marquette
"He probably has the best shot fake in college basketball. With Jimmy Butler gone, expect Marquette to run all its offense through him. He will definitely get more opportunity. He's one of the best guards in the country nationally people don't know about."

Kevin Jones, 6-8, Sr., F, West Virginia
"This is a big year for Kevin Jones. West Virginia lost a lot. The Mountaineers need him to be a go-to guy. He has played with a lot of scorers. West Virginia needs him to be a consistent scorer. For them to have the season they're accustomed to having, he'll have to have a big year."

Terrence Jones, 6-8, So., F, Kentucky
"Jones is a dynamic player who does his damage in a lot of ways. The added year of experience will make him a player of the year candidate."

Perry Jones III, 6-11, So., F, Baylor
"Baylor has to feel fortunate he came back. He affects the game in a lot of ways. He can score, block shots, runs the court and he's a premier athlete."

Kris Joseph, 6-7, Sr., F, Syracuse
"He's arguably the most talented player in our league with his guard skills. He could potentially be the highest draft pick of any of the returning Big East players. He's 6-7, but he doesn't need screens. He can beat you by himself. He's a pure pro prospect."

Jeremy Lamb, 6-5, So., G, Connecticut
"I've never seen a player improve from the beginning of the season to the end of the season like Jeremy Lamb did -- really within the last two months of the season. He's a tremendous shooter and rebounder for a guard. He's another great pro prospect."

Kendall Marshall, 6-4, So., G, North Carolina
"He has the best vision and feel and passing of any lead guard in the country. Some guys can thread a needle, but he's as good as it gets in that way. He can dominate a game without taking a shot. He's sneaky in getting to the lane. He's not afraid to take a shot, and he can stick it. He has an uncanny knack that few possess with passing. His size really helps him. And he's a threat offensively, too."

Trevor Mbakwe, 6-8, Sr., F, Minnesota
"He's a warrior. He's one of the best offensive rebounders that has been in this league since I've been around. He plays hard and physical."

Ray McCallum, 6-1, So., G, Detroit
"You can already tell that Ray is a very good player. He does a lot of things well and impacts the game in a lot of ways."

Doug McDermott, 6-7, So., F, Creighton
"He has a great feel for the game. He has a knack for scoring the ball with a very soft touch."

Khris Middleton, 6-7, Jr., F, Texas A&M
He's a big guard who can really shoot it but also score off the dribble. He can hurt you scoring in several different ways and does it with good shots. He's always under control. He has great court presence. I love his demeanor on the court."

Reeves Nelson, 6-8, Jr., F, UCLA
"He is a throwback power forward who can finish around the hoop with either hand. Couple that with his rebounding prowess, and you have the makings of an All-Pac-12 first-teamer."

Andrew Nicholson, 6-9, Sr., F, St. Bonaventure
"Nicholson is fast, strong and efficient as a scorer and a defensive rebounder regardless of the opponent. He is also a very underrated passer and shot-blocker. He knows how to use his body to protect the ball and has a very high basketball IQ. His long wingspan and great bounce allow him to play above the rim."

Alex Oriakhi, 6-9, Jr., C, Connecticut
"He's one of the best big men in the Big East returning. He's gotten better each year. It's hard to say this with Andre Drummond there, but he probably thought he'd get more offensive opportunity with Kemba Walker gone. But he's as good a defensive rebounder as there is in the Big East."

Thomas Robinson, 6-9, Jr., F, Kansas
"He's a pure physical specimen and can really control the paint. He can score and block shots, and he's probably the biggest physical presence in our league."

John Shurna, 6-9, Sr., F, Northwestern
"He's a self-made player. He wasn't highly touted coming out of high school but made himself into a very good offensive player. He can score around the basket. The injury set him back last year, but if he's healthy and plays as well as he did two years ago, it will really help them."

Peyton Siva, 6-0, Jr., G, Louisville
"He really needs to develop a jump shot. He's got great quickness, but he lost his confidence in his jump shot. He became too one-dimensional. If he can get his confidence in his jump shot back, he can be devastating."

Joshua Smith, 6-10, So., C, UCLA
"He is a true low-post threat with great hands and a terrific feel for the game. He will be even more effective as a full-time starter."

Jared Sullinger, 6-9, So., C, Ohio State
"He's a force inside. He's an old-school big guy who knows how to play and use his body. He's got a great touch. He was so poised and never got rattled last year and hit big shots, which is amazing as a freshman."

Jeffery Taylor, 6-7, Sr., G/F, Vanderbilt
"He benefits from being surrounded by great players. But he also suffers because he is talented enough to be a lead role player."

Jordan Taylor, 6-1, Sr., G, Wisconsin
"He's so solid. He comes every day and gets the job done. He's an excellent shooter but also has point guard skills that make him tough to match up with."

Casper Ware, 5-10, Sr., G, Long Beach State
"He's jet-quick and will beat you off the dribble. If you drop off of him, he will kill you behind the 3-point line. He's ultracompetitive and will not let his team lose."

Maalik Wayns, 6-2, Jr., G, Villanova
"It's a problem for the rest of the schools in our league that he's going to have the ball in his hands now that Corey Fisher is gone. He's probably the best point guard in our league."

Keith Wright, 6-8, Sr., F, Harvard
"He is a tremendous back-to-the-basket player. He knows when to pass and when to attack. He has great confidence in his teammates, which helps to make his team better."

Patric Young, 6-9, So., F/C, Florida
"He was as physical of a freshman as this league has seen. He is going to be in a bigger role this season."

Tyler Zeller, 7-0, Sr., F, North Carolina
"I love his skill, especially for a guy his size. He's one of the better big men in the country. He's got ability with his back to the basket, and as he physically matures going into this year, he'll gain even more strength to set him up for another level. If he gets strong enough, he'll have a long-range career professionally. He can get away with that skill in college without the strength."

Class of 2012 still making moves
Since the summer evaluation period closed on July 31, no team pulled off a bigger recruiting coup than Connecticut. The defending national champs convinced the No. 1-ranked center in the Class of 2012, Andre Drummond, to not only commit to the Huskies but reclassify to the Class of 2011. And despite having no available scholarships due to NCAA-imposed penalties, the school managed to free up a full ride for him by getting redshirt freshman Michael Bradley, who spent most of his youth in a Tennessee orphanage, to "volunteer" to give up his scholarship for one season. UConn's maneuvering was at once deft and diabolical, and Drummond will be a key part of its bid for a repeat national championship.
But what of his former brethren from the Class of 2012? They've been making moves of their own -- moves whose impact won't be felt for a year at the college level, but are worthy of consideration before our focus shifts to previewing the season at hand. What follows is our review of the five biggest post-summer developments on the recruiting trail.

1. UCLA's coastal shift (and Arizona's invasion of California)
The Bruins have long been a California program, and they stayed that way even when coach Ben Howland arrived from Pittsburgh in 2003 with his bruising brand of basketball: Of the 34 scholarship players who arrived in Westwood from 2003-11, either by recruitment or transfer, 25 were from California. Four more were from the West Coast (Oregon, Washington and Arizona). Howland's entire impressive lineage of UCLA-to-NBA guards came from California, too.
But the state's Class of 2010 talent pool was exceptionally light -- it only included one, top-40 player in the Recruiting Service Consensus Index (RSCI) in Bruins commitment Tyler Lamb, at 39 -- and Howland and his staff didn't gain footholds into the much stronger 2011 and 2012 classes. Arizona coach Sean Miller swooped in to grab four of the top six California-grown prospects (Josiah Turner, Brandon Ashley, Grant Jerrett and Gabe York) from those classes, positioning the Wildcats to be the league's dominant program. Howland, who's three years removed from his last Final Four trip, desperately needed to respond to the threat of an Arizona juggernaut -- and he went all the way across the country for reinforcements.
The Bruins hiring of assistant coach Korey McCray, the former CEO of the Atlanta Celtics, perhaps' adidas best AAU program, helped net them four-star small forward Jordan Adams in June, and has put them in the running for two Georgia big men, Tony Parker and Shaq Goodwin. While UCLA did land one California point guard, Dominic Artis, its biggest prize to date came from the previously untapped market of New Jersey, in the form of 6-foot-8 point forward Kyle Anderson, the No. 4 overall prospect in the Class of 2012. The do-it-all playmaker picked the Bruins after they waged a fierce recruiting battle with Seton Hall, St. John's, Florida and Georgetown. "The irony of that," said Rivals.com recruiting analyst Jerry Meyer, "is that some UCLA people were worried Steve Lavin would steal recruits from Southern California for St. John's."
UCLA's focus has now shifted to Las Vegas, the home of the No. 1 overall prospect in the Class of 2012, wing scorer Shabazz Muhammad. He's the crown jewel of the adidas AAU conglomerate, and has been rumored to be leaning toward the Bruins, but is unlikely to make a decision until the spring. If he picks UCLA, it would almost certainly own 2012's No. 1 class -- a stunning climb out of a two-year recruiting rut.

Destinations of top California prospects
Class of 2010
RSCI Rank Player Hometown College
39 Tyler Lamb Santa Ana UCLA
53 Keala King Compton Arizona St.
54 Anthony Brown Huntington Beach Stanford
55 Gary Franklin Santa Ana Cal
58 James Johnson Wildomar Virginia
71 Allen Crabbe Los Angeles Cal
82 Bryce Jones Woodland Hills USC
90 Dwayne Polee Los Angeles St. John's

Class of 2011
RSCI Rank Player Hometown College
14 Josiah Turner Sacramento Arizona
16 Jabari Brown Oakland Oregon
32 DeAndre Daniels Woodland Hills UConn
51 Norvel Pelle Los Angeles St. John's
53 Norman Powell San Diego UCLA
59 Angelo Chol San Diego Arizona
73 Amir Garrett Lawndale St. John's
81 Juan Anderson Castro Valley Marquette

Class of 2012
RSCI Rank Player Hometown College
6 Brandon Ashley Oakland Arizona
26 Grant Jerrett La Verne Arizona
33 Gabe York Orange Arizona
45 Robert Upshaw Fresno Undecided
50 Katin Reinhardt Santa Ana UNLV
60 Dominic Artis Richmond UCLA
77 Xavier Johnson Santa Ana Colorado
90 Zena Edosomwan North Hollywood Undecided

2. Gottfried strikes quickly on home talent
In May we looked at the chain reaction, starting all the way back with John Pelphrey's firing from Arkansas, that led to Raleigh, N.C., five-star shooting guard Rodney Purvis being a free-agent recruit. Last week, new Wolfpack coach Mark Gottfried landed Purvis, a prolific scorer, as the centerpiece of their Class of 2012. While Rivals.com's Meyer says Purvis was a must-get recruit -- "When you have someone who's right in Raleigh, and Duke and Carolina aren't in on him, you have to get it done" -- the majority of elite players, of late, have tended to leave their home states:
• Of the RSCI's top 20 from the Class of 2011, just five stayed home: Adonis Thomas (Memphis), Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (Georgia), P.J. Hairston (North Carolina), Tony Wroten (Washington) and Cody Zeller (Indiana).
• Of the RSCI's top 20 from the Class of 2010, just six stayed home: Jared Sullinger (Ohio State), Perry Jones (Baylor), Reggie Bullock (North Carolina), C.J. Leslie (N.C. State), Joe Jackson (Memphis) and Patric Young (Florida).
Gottfried may not be done in the state of North Carolina, either: He's still in pursuit of 6-6 Durham wing T.J. Warren, who ranks No. 24 in the RSCI and recently took Kentucky off his short list.

3. Kentucky, still TBDWill 2012 be the first year in John Calipari's tenure that the Wildcats don't bring in a blockbuster class? Not if they get a commitment from Muhammad, who plans to visit Lexington for Big Blue Madness on Oct. 14. But at the moment, UK has just one 2012 pledge, which came on Sept. 21 from Archie Goodwin, an Arkansas combo guard who ranks 10th in the RSCI -- and it was just eliminated from the hunt for the No. 3 overall prospect, Mitch McGary, a Michigan-born big man who could've slid into Anthony Davis' spot in the lineup after his inevitable one-and-done jump to the NBA. The Wildcats remain involved with a number of big men in the 8-20 RSCI range, including Anthony Bennett (Ontario, Can.), DaJuan Coleman (Dewitt, N.Y.) and Alex Poythress (Clarksville, Tenn.)
A new entry in the UK recruiting picture is Gary Harris, a Fishers, Ind., two-guard who ranks 15th in the RSCI and had been expected to land in the Big Ten, either at Indiana, Michigan State or Purdue. Scout.com analyst Evan Daniels says Harris' interest in the Wildcats is serious -- "They're getting in late on [Harris], but Kentucky is a school that has always intrigued him" -- and a '12-13 backcourt featuring Goodwin, Harris and N.C. State transfer Ryan Harrow would be formidable. But for fans who've become accustomed to landing a John Wall/Brandon Knight/Marquis Teague/Anthony Davis-level star every year, it may be a slight letdown.

Indians ready to walk from Sizemore
The clock is ticking on Grady Sizemore's future in Cleveland. It's shouldn't be a surprise that [Sizemore] had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee Monday in Vail, Colo. ... The good news: it wasn't microfracture surgery. The bad news: it was Sizemore's fifth surgery in the last three years. Now for the big question. The Indians hold a $9 million club option on Sizemore for 2012. He's played 104 games in the last two years and is returning from yet another operation. So what will ownership do? "Not going to speculate on that," said GM Chris Antonetti in a text. "We'll let you know when we have a decision on the option." If the Indians don't exercise the option, Sizemore is eligible for free agency.

Hillis' agent takes responsibility for advising not to play sick
CLEVELAND (AP) -- Fearing Peyton Hillis was weakened from strep throat and could risk injury, his agent advised the Browns' bruising back not to play on Sept. 25 against Miami.
Hillis left Browns Stadium about two hours before kickoff, a decision that has led to speculation he was upset over negotiations with the club on a contract extension. However, agent Kennard McGuire told The Associated Press that Hillis was too sick to play, and that if he had chanced playing at less than 100 percent, he could have jeopardized his career.
"I would give him the same advice to him or any of my clients as if he were my son," McGuire said in a phone interview. "The game is physical enough, and the way Peyton plays the game, he needs all the elements of his physical game. Him being sick, and the level of his sickness, is the equivalent of being injured.
"Not only could he have hurt himself but he could have hurt his team. Nobody embodies Cleveland like Peyton Hillis. If anyone wants to point a finger, point it at me."
In the aftermath of Hillis' decision not to play, suspicions have been raised about the 25-year-old's motives and some have questioned if he sat out in protest.
On Sunday, citing unidentified sources, ESPN reported that some players in Cleveland's locker room wondered if Hillis' contract situation was a factor in him deciding not to play.
McGuire, like coach Pat Shurmur, was disturbed that if there were teammates who felt that way, they should have had the "courage" to speak out publicly.
McGuire said Hillis, who rushed for nearly 1,200 yards and 11 touchdowns in his first season with Cleveland, has been affected by ongoing contract talks with the club.
"He's human, of course it's on his mind," said McGuire, adding he has been in "constant contact" with the Browns. "Would it affect him being a pro? No. Does he feel underappreciated? Yes. He's human. We all in life have a perceived value of our worth now, but we do believe that he's deserving of something that mirrors his production of last year."
Hillis carried Cleveland's offense in 2010 under former coach Eric Mangini. Acquired in a trade from Denver for quarterback Brady Quinn, Hillis didn't take long to storm into the hearts of Browns fans with a bulldozing running style that matched this blue-collar football city's hard-working identity.
During the offseason, Hillis won a fan vote over Philadelphia quarterback Michael Vick to grace the cover of the Madden 12 video game.
Last season, Hillis caught 61 passes and became the first player in team history to rush for more than 1,000 yards, make 50 catches and score 10 TDs in the same season.
He's in the final year of a rookie contract that will pay him $600,000 and Hillis is hoping to be rewarded for his big season.
In the past month, the Browns have given contract extensions to several players they have identified as part of their future "core." Pro Bowl offensive tackle Joe Thomas, tight end Evan Moore, defensive tackle Ahtyba Rubin and linebacker Chris Gocong have all received new deals.
Hillis would figure to be in line for an extension, but McGuire indicated the sides aren't near a deal.
"Both the Browns and I are in constant communication," he said. "The fact that the Browns are in contact sends a message that both sides want to procure an agreement. It's just that we are not aligned at this time as to what that value is. Details of these talks will always remain between me and the organization."

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