Thursday, October 27, 2005
10-27-05 - Wash Post - Stags' Freeman Will Decide Early, Very Early
By Josh Barr
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 27, 2005; 11:39 PM
Austin Freeman might be the most highly recruited basketball player in the Washington area these days. Though only a junior, the DeMatha High guard has plenty of college scholarship offers and hears recruiting pitches so often that he will make a decision before the start of the season, Stags Coach Mike Jones said.
"He's getting tired of the calls and people asking," Jones said. "For the most part, guys like a Freeman, who are going to get recruited at that level, [the intense recruiting is] going to happen eventually, it's just happening sooner. If you're good and get noticed, you're going to go through this process at some time. It's impossible not to."
Freeman is not the only one. Increasingly, high schoolers are committing to colleges earlier. Montrose Christian swingman Greivis Vasquez, perhaps the most sought-after senior yet to make a decision locally, also could make his choice soon.
Of course, part of the reason for players being able to make decisions sooner is that colleges begin recruiting them sooner. If you're not in on the ground level -- recruiting a player from early in his career -- then it is harder to advance to the next level and be among a player's final options. So by the time a player gets to his junior year, it is not difficult to see him get burned out by the process, Jones said.
"The whole process wears on you," Jones said. "It seems like [committing early] is the trend, anyway. Everybody is committing very early -- a lot before their senior year, a lot before their junior year. If you look at the top 100 players in the class of , none of those guys have played a game in their junior year yet but I guarantee that 35 to 40 percent of them have made their college choice already.
"This is all normal. Austin is a little late by some people's standards."
Jones noted that even if Freeman makes his decision soon, he will not be the first local player from his class to announce his choice. Mike Beasley, who was All-Met as a sophomore last season while playing for Riverdale Baptist, more than one year ago picked Charlotte. (Beasley has since transferred to Oak Hill Academy in southwestern Virginia for this season.)
As for Freeman, he has taken unofficial visits to Maryland and Georgetown. This weekend he will visit North Carolina State; next weekend Notre Dame. Those are the four schools that Jones expects Freeman will choose from, though Syracuse also could be in the mix.
"Anytime you ask him, he'll list 12 or 13 schools, but I think those five are the ones he's seriously considering," Jones said. "The bottom line is if Austin and his dad and mom are comfortable with making [a decision] that's their business and their choice, too."
Jones said he does not expect any of his other players to make college choice soon. (Senior point guard Nigel Munson picked Virginia Tech before last season.) Junior forward Jerai Grant is "being recruited by half the ACC and most of the Big East, but he's a guy who probably is going to make a decision after the season or before next season," Jones said.
Saturday, October 22, 2005
FOXSports.com - Once-storied programs are poised for return
| Yoni Cohen / Special to FOXSports.com || |
In the early and mid-1980s, Georgetown, Houston, and Indiana were college basketball's elite.Twenty-some years later, the Hoyas, Cougars and Hoosiers are primed for a return to glory ... or at least to the NCAA tournament.
In 1981, Indiana won the national championship. In 1982, Georgetown was favored, but fell in the final seconds. In 1983, Houston was favored, but lost at the buzzer. In 1984, Georgetown defeated Houston and cut down the nets. In 1985, Georgetown again lost in the finals. In 1987, Indiana once more won the national championship.
In the process, Georgetown's Patrick Ewing and John Thompson, Houston's Akeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler and Indiana's Isiah Thomas, Steve Alford and Bobby Knight popularized the NCAA tournament.
Houston's surprise loss in 1983 and Georgetown's shocking defeat in 1985, perhaps the two greatest upsets in college basketball history, established the NCAA tournament as the most exhilarating event in sports. Never again would the national championship be broadcast on the same night as the Academy Awards.
More recently, all three programs have fallen on hard times. "Phi Slamma Jamma" has been grounded since 1992. "Hoya Paranoia" has not overtaken March Madness since 2001. The Hoosiers have not had a season on the brink since 2003.
This year, however, Georgetown grey, Houston red and Indiana crimson should be back in style come March Madness.
In his first year on his father's throne, John Thompson III all but made the "Princeton Offense" a misnomer. Though last season's Hoyas played at a pace marginally faster than did the Tigers, Georgetown scored more and gave up fewer points per possession than Princeton. Not only did last year's Hoyas shoot from behind the arc with greater accuracy than did the Tigers, Georgetown also distributed more assists per game than did Thompson's alma mater and former employer.
The result of the Hoyas' steep learning curve? Sixteen victories before Valentine's Day ... but only one conference win thereafter. Last year's club hit a wall, one that this year's edition will run right through.
Stud forward Brandon Bowman re-thought his early entry into the NBA draft and is back to score in bunches. Versatile Big East Co-Freshman of the Year Jeff Green returns to serve as a role model for young players everywhere; last year he shot 40 percent from behind the arc, 50 percent from the field and 70 percent from the charity stripe.
Senior point guard Ashanti Cook, a double-digit scorer, practiced with 7-2 center Roy Hibbert this summer, further acclimating each to the other's game. Hibbert, fast becoming a Thompson favorite, should be much more of a factor. Swingman Darrel Owens was granted an additional year of eligibility. After collecting nearly as many points in the Big East tournament and NIT as he did during the rest of the season, Owens could well be poised for a breakout campaign. Add four well-regarded recruits to the mix and the Hoyas have the makings of a Big East contender.
Need additional evidence that what's old is new at Georgetown? Pat Ewing Jr. recently opted to play for John Thompson III. (The school from which Ewing Jr. transferred? Indiana. The hometown of KRIV, the television station that first reported Pat's relocation? Houston).
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
Crews Picks the Vols
Darren Epps; Staff Writer
Tennessee basketball coach Bruce Pearl is putting together one of the top recruiting classes in the country before he ever coaches a Volunteers game.
Pearl landed the school's most highly rated men's basketball commitment since Vincent Yarbrough on Monday when 6-foot-7 forward Duke Crews announced he'll play for the Vols in 2006. Crews, from Hampton, Va., is one of the top high school seniors in the country and picked the Vols over Wake Forest and Georgetown.
"It's not all about the name of the school," said Crews, ranked the No. 10 small forward nationally by Rivals.com. "Tennessee is where I felt most comfortable. I want to be a part of starting some success at Tennessee. I believe it's a program on the rise."
Crews cited his relationship with Pearl and assistant coach Tony Jones as one of the main reasons he spurned several ACC schools for the Vols. Crews also took an official visit to defending national champion North Carolina.
"Coach Pearl and Coach Jones were both straightforward with me from day one," Crews said. "They said they wanted me, but more than that they needed me."
Crews joins 6-8 forward Wayne Chism, rated the nation's No. 42 player overall, and point guard Marques Johnson as commitments for the 2006 class. Johnson is one of the top prospects in the state of Indiana.
But the gem of the class so far is Crews, who was the No. 2 player at the Nike Camp in Indianapolis last summer and is ranked the No. 28 player overall by Rivals.
"It's pretty surprising he picked Tennessee," Rivals recruiting analyst Jerry Meyer said. "It really does solidify the job Coach Pearl and his staff are doing in recruiting. To land Duke Crews is maybe a statement commitment as far as establishing the fact this coaching staff can get it done recruiting against top programs. They went into ACC country and beat out those guys."
Crews attended the same high school, Bethel, as NBA star Allen Iverson. Meyer said Crews will be equally entertaining.
"The Tennessee fans are going to love Duke Crews," Meyer said. "He battles. He brings it. He plays with such a passion. He's an intimidating figure out there on the court. More times than not, when you travel and see these kids, you're disappointed because they don't play with a passion. Duke is not like that at all.
"To get one like that and who is so talented, that's why it's so big for Tennessee."
E-mail Darren Epps at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Friday, October 14, 2005
October 14, 2005 - The Washington Times - "Hoyas Add More Depth, Optimism"
Last season Georgetown experienced basketball enlightenment under first-year head coach John Thompson III. Get ready for the Gilded Age.
Thompson's second season on the Hilltop unofficially begins at tonight's Midnight Madness celebration amid an impressive buzz of momentum and national expectation. Despite one of the nation's youngest rosters, the Hoyas finished 19-13 last season, and only a stretch-run swoon kept the program from earning its first NCAA tournament invite since 2001. Thompson welcomes back the top six players from last season, adds a solid four-man recruiting class and enters the brutal new Big East with a squad ranked as high as 20th by one preseason publication (the Sporting News).
"We're excited to get this year going," said Thompson. "I think we worked very hard across the board in the offseason. And one thing that is different this year is now we don't have 13 freshman [relative to learning my system], we have nine sophomores and four freshman. Those guys who were here last year have a much better understanding of the structure of our system. They know what to expect, and they're ready to add to that and grow."
About 10 members of the team spent all summer at Georgetown. And to a man, they described the offseason work as more rigorous than in any previous offseason. Senior forward Brandon Bowman, who tested the NBA draft waters before returning for his final season, was one of those players who spent the offseason pushing his teammates in workouts on the court, on the track and in the weight room.
"This has definitely been the hardest we've worked in the offseason since I've been here. ... We busted it pretty good as a group," said Bowman, who led the team in scoring (15.1 points) last season. "We're all stronger physically and fundamentally and excited to get started -- ready, willing and able."
Aside from having a full season in Thompson's system, which requires a heightened hoops IQ and focuses on spacing, screens and sharing, better conditioning is likely to make a huge difference for the Hoyas. Last season's group, particularly the three freshman who played extensive minutes, seemed to fade physically down the stretch, a stretch that saw the Hoyas lose six of their final seven games en route to stumbling into an NIT bid.
Poor rebounding and foul trouble defined that seven-game stretch, as freshman phenom Jeff Green (13.1 points, 6.6 rebounds) and towering freshman center Roy Hibbert (5.1 points, 3.5 rebounds) saw their numbers decline in the season's final weeks. "I think everybody wore down, so I'm not going to use that as an excuse," said Green, who shared Big East Rookie of the Year honors with Connecticut's Rudy Gay and has added 15 pounds of muscle and shaved off his dreadlocks.
But nobody on the team looks more transformed than Hibbert, a 7-foot-2, 280-pound monster who earned everybody's nod as most improved.
"Roy is balling. He's going to be a big surprise to a lot of people," said senior point guard Ashanti Cook, who watched Hibbert's development firsthand as a teammate on his Kenner League team this summer. "He's been dominating this summer and pretty much everyday in practice.
"He's got a lot more confidence in himself. He feels like he can score, and he's no longer hesitant to put it up. Man, he's 7-2 and confident. It's tough to stop that. You throw it down to him, and he's going to score all day. That makes us so much better as a team, because it opens up so much outside."
With Louisville, Marquette, Cincinnati, DePaul and South Florida joining the Big East this season, and Duke, Oregon and Illinois on the Hoyas' nonconference slate, Georgetown will need a more significant contribution from Hibbert.
Hibbert pinpointed solving the team's rebounding issues as his personal goal this season:
"Rebounding -- I'm taking that over. That's my job, and I'm ready. "
Monday, October 03, 2005
October 1, 2005 - Sun Sentinel -- Heat Notes - "Guard Close"