Tuesday, February 26, 2013

HS Basketball Class of 2017's # 1 Recruits: DeAndre Ayton or Cody Riley?


Written by: Prospect-Central

Leeeeeeets Get Reeeeeeady to Ruuuuuumble! In one corner. Standing 6-foot,10-inches. Weighing in at 200 pounds. From San Diego, California. DeAndre "The Destroyer" Ayyyyton!

Could DeAndre Ayton D up Cody Riley?
In the other corner. Standing 6-foot, 7-inches. Weighing in at 225 pounds. From Chatsworth, California. Cody "The Future" Riiiiley! Who will retain the coveted tittle of #1 player in the Class of 2017? Well, you better tune into pay-per-view to find out :)

All kidding aside, there's nothing funny about the game of these two California studs. If you ever question why 8th grade basketball players are ranked, look no further than to DeAndre Ayton & Cody Riley.

Besides their ridiculous size, they both are extremely athletic, fundamentally sound, and show the willingness to work on their craft. They might not end up at the top of their class once they graduate high school, but as of right now, I can't imagine another eighth grade basketball player better than these two.

Cody Riley has been the #1 player in the Class of 2017 for well over two-years now. With his size, athleticism, and offensive repertoire, he's been tearing up middle school basketball like no other player in his class. On top of that, the Arizona Wildcats have already offered him a scholarship.

DeAndre Ayton on the other hand, has been the #2 player in the Class of 2017 for almost just as long. While his ranking was predominately due to his size, the eighth grader's skills and athletic ability have made a remarkable improvement over the past year.

Is Cody Riley still #1 in the Class of 2017?
This past weekend at the Pangos Jr. All-American Camp, DeAndre Ayton officially made his run at the top spot in the Class of 2017. He was so impressive, recruiting pundits are already crowning him the #1 player in the class.

Even though Cody Riley wasn't at the camp, there were still some impressive prospects there none the less. Two players in particular to take a mental note of for the future, Sacramento's 6'8'' Brandon McCoy (2017) and 6'7'' Jordan Brown (2018). From all indications, they are both high-major DI prospects.

The paths of DeAndre Ayton and Cody Riley however, will undoubtedly be linked for years to come. Not only will they both be vying for the best player in their class, they also both live in Cali.

Whether it's on the AAU circuit (DeAndre plays for Team Bibby & Cody runs with CBC), or at other future high school events, these two players should have a number of epic battles before it's all said and done. The only question is, which player is deserving of that #1 spot?

Sunday, February 17, 2013

MJ b4 MJ: The Discovery Michael Jordan!!! (50th Birthday Edition)

Michael Jordan: Class of 1981

Written by: Inside Carolina Magazine & Prospect-Central

February 17th, 1963. Exactly 50 years ago to the day. That's when the greatest basketball player of all-time was born. There aren't many birthdays outside my family that I know by heart, but Michael Jeffrey Jordan's is definitely one of them. My words could never do his game justice, so I will keep this short and simple.

There's a reason the Jumpman logo is the symbol for Prospect-Central. Michael Jordan is not only the greatest basketball player of all-time, he's the greatest athlete, hands down. While ever recruit should aspire to become 'His Airness', the fact of the matter is there will never be another Michael Jordan.

Before the Hall-of-Fame career, before the shoes, before MJ was MJ, there was simply Mike, a skinny kid from Wilmington, North Carolina. In honor of this half-century milestone, Prospect-Central & Inside Carolina Magazine proudly present, MJ b4 MJ: The Discovery of Michael Jordan. Happy 50th Michael!! Original Article.

Today, Michael Jordan is an icon.

The former UNC All-American is widely recognized as the greatest player in NBA history, a gifted athlete who remains one of the most recognizable figures in sports even a decade after his playing days have ended.

MJ had serious style, even as a toddler
But in the early summer of 1980, “Mike” Jordan was justanother young basketball player—his promise discerned by just one ACC coaching staff....a secret that only Dean Smith and his loyal assistants had discovered.

Unfortunately for the Tar Heels, Jordan didn’t remain a secret. By the end of that summer, Jordan had exploded into the national spotlight. By late August 1980, he was recognized as one of the nation’s best prospects. Suddenly, Smith found himself locked in the middle of what had become a recruiting frenzy for the player he had had in his back pocket just weeks earlier.

And it was all Roy Williams’s fault.

“I made a mistake and I’ve always remembered that,” Williams said recently, explaining his role in providing the young Jordan with a stage to display his awesome raw talent.

North Carolina’s current head coach can laugh about it now, since the story ended up happily—UNC did, in fact, land Jordan and the gifted young prospect did help UNC claim the 1982 national title and three ACC regular season championships. Jordan left a legacy at UNC that abides today—current Golden State Warrior and UNC Alum Harrison Barnes cited his lifelong admiration of Jordan as one factor in his decision to sign with the Tar Heels.

Still, Williams’s mistake caused Smith and his staff some anxious moments and put the young assistant coach in an awkward position at the time. It’s hard to fault Williams since it could be perceived that his “mistake” was basically in putting the interests of the kid he was recruiting ahead of the interests of the UNC program.


MJ made bald heads popular, but not as a kid
In retrospect, it’s surprising that Jordan remained a secret for so long. While he was famously cut from the Laney High School varsity as a sophomore, the Wilmington, N.C. product transformed himself after that disappointment. He shot up from 5-11 to 6-3 and while he was painfully skinny at that time, the young Jordan already displayed his spectacular athleticism.

Bob Gibbons, a young recruiting writer from Lenoir, N.C., was introduced to Jordan in the summer of 1979.

Bobby Cremins was the coach at Appalachian State at the time and he had the Laney team up at his camp as a group,” Gibbons said. “I knew Bobby pretty well and he called me and said, ‘Bob there’s the kid up here you’re not going to believe.

At that point Jordan had not even played for the Laney varsity. But Gibbons was dazzled by his first look at the future Hall of Famer.

“I saw a 6-3 player with explosive athletic ability,” Gibbons said. “But what impressed me was what Michael said when Bobby introduced him to me—‘Mr. Gibbons, what do I need to do better to be a better player?’ That sums up Michael Jordan. He was always trying to get better. Even in his last years in the NBA, he worked harder than the rookies.”

Gibbons would go on to become a bigger name in the recruiting community, but in the summer of 1979, he was a relatively unknown recruiting writer with a small audience. And even he admits that he didn’t realize he had just gotten his first look at perhaps the greatest player of all-time.

“I wrote about what a good prospect he was, but I only had a couple of hundred readers and a small regional audience,” Gibbons said.

MJ and high school coach Clifton Herring
Jordan continued to fly under the radar, even though as a junior at Laney he was a force—averaging over 25 points a game for a powerful 4-A (North Carolina’s highest classification) team.

Yet, somehow only North Carolina noticed—at least among the Big Four powers.

It helped that Bill Foster at Duke and Norm Sloan at N.C. State were in their final seasons and already had one foot out the door. Mike Krzyzewski (Coach K's recruitment letter to MJ) and Jim Valvano—two coaches who would join the Jordan pursuit very late—were still at Army and Iona respectively when Bill Guthridge first saw Jordan play at Laney High School.

Even so recruiting North Carolina had been a priority ever since Dean Smith replaced Frank McGuire as head coach in the summer of 1961. McGuire had preferred to build his team around his pipeline from the New York City area, but recruiting restrictions that Smith inherited—the result of the university’s de-emphasis on basketball after national point shaving scandals—forced Smith to rely heavily on homegrown talent to rebuild his program.

Smith enjoyed considerable success with the likes of Fayetteville’s Rusty Clark and New Bern’s Bill Bunting, anchors of his first great team. He followed with Charlie Scott (a New Yorker who prepped at Laurinburg Institute), Charlotte’s Bobby Jones, Greensboro’s Bob McAdoo, Rocky Mount’s Phil Ford and Gastonia’s James Worthy. There were some misses too—losing Shelby’s David Thompson and Tommy Burleson of Avery County gave N.C. State a brief edge in the rivalry; losing Durham’s John Lucas and Rocky Mount’s Buck Williams to Maryland hurt in the 1970's.

UNC staff that recruited MJ: Roy Williams, Eddie Fogler, Bill Guthridge, Dean Smith
Still, UNC had the best connections and the deepest roots in the state—thanks to Smith’s persistent in-state effort. Those connections would give the Heels a head start in the recruitment of Michael Jordan.

Guthridge made the trip to the North Carolina coast after receiving a tip from Mike Brown, the athletic director of the New Hanover County schools. When he returned from his first view of Jordan, Smith asked his trusted aide what he thought.

Guthridge reported that the kid had exceptional quickness and great hands. Then he added: “He’s unmilked.”

Writing in his autobiography in 1999, Smith explained that he took Guthridge’s words to mean that “while Michael had some obvious talents that couldn’t be coached, there was a lot to teach.

Smith decided to add Jordan to his recruiting list. Young assistant coach Roy Williams was assigned to call and write Jordan—specifically to induce the young prospect to attend UNC’s summer camp.

The Tar Heel coach, aware that his rivals had not stumbled onto Jordan’s talent, also warned his staff not to mention the kid to any reporters (today, coaches can’t comment on prospects to the media, but in 1980, it was not only legal, but happened frequently).

MJ's yearbook page, Laney High School (N.C.)
Williams made one exception, calling Brick Oettinger a friend whowas in his third year of covering basketball recruiting for a publication known as The Poop Sheet (now the ACC Sports 

“Roy told me I had to keep the tip secret because Coach Smith didn’t want the media people talking about him,” Oettinger recalled. “He told me ‘There’s this guy named Mike Jordan at Laney. Coach Guthridge has been to see him three times. He does 360 degree dunks like it’s nothing.

Oettinger checked the schedule and saw that Laney was playing a game at Southern Wayne High School—the defending state 4-A champion—and decided to check Jordan out himself.

“I went with three friends,” he said. “Laney won by 20 and was up 30 at one point. Jordan was just fabulous. I wrote in our next issue—February of 1980—that ‘You probably haven’t heard the name Mike Jordan, but he has the best combination of athleticism, basketball skills and intangibles of any high school wing guard that I’ve ever seen.’

“Poop Sheet publisher Dennis Wuycik used that quote in promotions for more than 20 years.”

An Overnight Sensation

MJ dominated his senior year at Laney
Even with news starting to leak out, Jordan remained relatively unknown on the national scene. Coach Smith was anxious to keep it that way after watching Jordan excel at his summer camp.

“Very few people knew about him at that time,” Williams recalled. “Michael came and he just destroyed everybody in the camp.”

What impressed Smith and his staff was Jordan’s hunger to learn. He kept sneaking into drills. They couldn’t get him off the court. By the end of the session, the Tar Heel coach knew that he was sitting on a special prospect.

But he also knew that Jordan was about to go national.

In his autobiography, Smith explained that Williams and assistant coach Eddie Fogler had—without his knowledge or consent—called Howard Garfinkel, who ran the prestigious Five-Star Camp in Honesdale, Pa. (near Pittsburgh), and arranged for Jordan to attend.

That’s not quite what happened, according to Williams.

“One night during [UNC’s] camp, Pops told me that he had also got Michael an invitation to the Five-Star or the BC camp,” Williams said.

“Pops” was Clifton Herring, Jordan’s coach at Laney High School. The two camps he mentioned were the two existing national showcase events—Garfinkel’s Five-Star & Bill Cronauer’s camp in Milledgeville, Ga. In that era, before the explosion of AAU basketball, those camps were far more important than any of today’s many summer events.

“Remember, that was before the Internet,” Gibbons said. “Those two camps were the only place kids could get national exposure.”

MJ with the killer crossover in high school
Herring wanted Williams’s advice about attending one of the camps.

“He asked me what I thought,” Williams recounted. “I said, ‘I think he should go. I think it would be a great test of him. If I had my choice, I would go to the Five-Star Camp.’ I thought that would be better for him because it was such a good teaching camp. It wasn’t just about playing games. It was teaching the fundamentals of the game of basketball.

“So I called Howard Garfinkel and told him that Michael was coming and he would really be pleased with him as a player. I told Garf, ‘He’s going to be good enough to be a waiter.’ You see, if you could wait tables, you could go two weeks for the price of one. So I did call Garf and talked about the opportunity.“

Smith told Williams that it would have been better if Jordan did not attend Five-Star.

“I said, ‘Coach, in my opinion, he was going to go and I was just trying to give him some guidance about what I thought would be best for him,” Williams responded. “And Michael’s family really appreciated it.”

As it turned out, Smith’s worst fears were realized at Five-Star. Jordan enjoyed a spectacular double session. He was the MVP of the first session and the only reason he didn't win the second-session MVP was that camp rules prevented one player from winning that award twice.

“He won seven awards in the two sessions,” Oettinger recalls.

Afterward, Garfinkel rated Jordan as one of the top 10 prospects in the class. Oettinger ranked him No. 2 behind Georgetown recruit Patrick Ewing. Gibbons rated Jordan No. 1—ahead of Ewing.

“I had gone to several of his games during his junior year and I was there at Five-Star,” Gibbons said. “You can’t believe how I was ripped for ranking Jordan ahead of Ewing—everybody said I was taking care of a hometown boy.”

MJ and family break the news, he'll attend the University of North Carolina
But after the Five-Star Camp, plenty of coaches knew how good Jordan was.

Smith suddenly found himself recruiting against South Carolina, where ex-Duke coach Bill Foster took Jordan to meet the governor; N.C. State, where Valvano turned on the charm and encouraged Jordan to follow in the footsteps of his childhood hero, David Thompson; and Maryland, where Lefty Driesell tried to convince Jordan’s father that with the opening of the new Chesapeake Bay Bridge, College Park was as close to Wilmington as Chapel Hill.

In the end, Jordan elected to sign with UNC.

Gibbons doesn’t think that UNC’s Smith ever had anything to worry about. “I’m sure he did worry and I’m sure he had to work a little harder,” the veteran writer said. “But Michael and his family loved North Carolina.”

One of the reasons that the Jordans never wavered was Williams's “mistake”—they believed the young assistant was looking out for Michael’s interest.

“Michael’s Dad was always very appreciative,” Williams recalls.

Indeed, to show his appreciation, Jordan’s father hand-built a wood-burning stove for the young assistant coach. He would build Williams a new stove for every house he moved into.

The Legacy

MJ was a 1981 McDonald's All-American
Although those in the know understood what a great prospect Jordan was—maybe few realized how great, but after Five-Star, coaches recognized the UNC recruit as a great prospect—it’s curious how little buzz Jordan’s signing generated.

It didn’t help that he signed the same day as Lynwood Robinson, a point guard from Southern Wayne High School and the MVP of the previous year’s 4-A state tournament. UNC’s Fogler had described Robinson as “the next Phil Ford” and his commitment stole the headlines from Jordan—except in Durham, where sports writer Keith Drum, who had been at Honesdale and seen Jordan dominate the nation’s best prospects, told anybody that would listen that Jordan was by far the more important signee.

It’s interesting to note that Drum later left journalism and has spent the last two decades as an NBA scout.

Jordan was also the victim of some curious omissions that confused a public that was not as recruiting-savvy as today's fans.

For instance, Street and Smith’s Yearbook—at the time the only important preseason publication in college basketball—usually listed 650 high school seniors as top prospects. But the 1981 edition didn’t include Jordan—editor Dave Krider later wrote that his North Carolina contact didn’t include Jordan among the top 20 juniors in North Carolina.

After the 1980-81 season, the Associated Press poll picked Asheville’s Buzz Peterson over Jordan as the 
state’s prep player of the year. Peterson, who later roomed with Jordan and became one of his best friends, 
was always embarrassed by the vote.

MJ's legacy began with this shot in 1982
Then there was the 1981 McDonald’s All-American game, held in Wichita, Kansas. Jordan scored a record 30 points, including the tying and game-winning free throws with 11 seconds left as the East edged the West 96-95. He hit 13-of-19 field goals, 4-of-4 free throws and added six steals and four assists.

Somehow, the MVP vote was split between Adrian Branch and local favorite Aubrey Sherrod. Jordan's obviously one of the greatest McDonald's All-Americans ever, so no harm no foul.

Over the years, the myth has grown that Jordan was a late-bloomer (well, he was cut from his high school team before his sophomore season) or that he was an unknown when he arrived at UNC (he was not). It’s understandable that with all the odd twists and turns in his path from unknown to superstar that some confusion would arise.

But it’s really very simple—entering the summer of 1980, Mike Jordan was largely unknown to the public and to the majority of the basketball community; by the end of that summer, he remained a mystery to the public, but was widely recognized within the basketball community as one of the nation’s great prospects.

By the time Michael Jordan ended his freshman season at UNC, he belonged to the world. Original Article.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

MIKE BIBBY, JR: The 3rd Generation Bibby!!!

MIKE BIBBY & MIKE BIBBY, JR: Class of 2016

Written by: Prospect-Central

Have you ever noticed how many pro athletes name their children after themselves? From Barry Sanders, Jr. to Juwan Howard, Jr., more and more sons of former stars are beginning to start their own athletic careers. The only catch is, they're gonna have to do it sharing the same name.

What team does Mike Bibby, Jr. play for?
This is obviously a double-edged sword. On one hand, you'll have the very best life has to offer, since which parent wouldn't want that for their child? On the other hand however, you'll probably have to go through life constantly being compared to your famous father, fair or not.

If Mike Bibby, Jr. wasn't the son of Mike Bibby, Sr., he probably wouldn't be featured by Prospect-Central. That's not to say the 5-foot-11 point guard can't ball, but when your father played 14 seasons in the NBA, was drafted 2nd overall in 1998, won an NCAA championship with the Arizona Wildcats, and by the way earned over 100 million dollars in his career, it's safe to say that would trump any other reason for writing an article.

Slowly emerging from the shadows of his famous father, Mike Bibby, Jr. has been playing very well during his first year of high school basketball. He's putting up some decent numbers for Shadow Mountain High School (Phoenix, AZ), averaging 9.2 ppg, 2.1 spg, and 4.1 apg, which is actually good for top 30 in the freshman class. Shadow Mountain is also the Alma mater of his father.

I've actually known about the younger Bibby for a while now. He's been making a name for himself on the AAU circuit playing for - you guessed it - Team Bibby. While Mike, Jr. is one of the nicer players on the team, there are some other hoopers on even younger Team Bibby sqauds who might have more potential.

Is Mike Bibby, Jr. the next Mike Bibby?
Two players from Team Bibby to keep in mind for the future, Class of 2017's DeAndre Ayton and Class of 2018's Marvin Bagley, III (not a junior lol). At 6-foot-10, Ayton's size alone makes him an intriguing 8th grader. Once he adds some muscle to his developing frame, look out! Marvin Bagley, III. on the other hand, has to be one of the most skilled 7th graders in the nation. With his size, athleticism, and overall feel for the game, it's hard not to like his future potential.

What type of player will Mike Bibby, Jr. become though? With three more years of high school ball, the tutelage of his father, plus the fact he'll develop his game in college, the NBA is certainly not out of the question. He obviously can't rely on his name to make that a reality, but I wouldn't bet against a Bibby. After all, his grandfather Henry Bibby played in the league as well. Only time will tell if he can live up to such lofty expectations, but even if he doesn't play at the highest level, Mike Bibby, Jr. will always be a 3rd generation Bibby!!!

02/09/13 - Mike Bibby gets ejected from Mike Bibby, Jr.'s high school game vs. Sunnyslope.

Friday, February 8, 2013

SAVANNA TRAPP: Class of 2013's 6-foot 9-inch Female Hooper!!!

SAVANNA TRAPP: Class of 2013

Written by: Kare11 Sports & Prospect-Central

If you aren't a fan of women's basketball, I really can't blame you. At times, the women's game can be as exciting as watching paint dry. For those of you totally bias against the sport though, you really should try and broaden your horizons. After all, you never know when something might catch your eye.

Savanna Trapp representing Esko High School
When you see a dude who's standing 6-foot-9, it's human nature to give him the "double-take." When you see a woman who's 6-foot-9 on the other hand, you might end up becoming the paparazzi.

Meet Savanna Trapp. Three inches from being a 7-footer and most certainly a female. While the UCLA commit is still a long ways from growing into her frame, her coordination for her size is actually very good. She has excellent hands, moves her feet very well, and can even throw it down with relative ease.

While she obviously appears to have a bright future in basketball, Savanna's only ranked as the 20th best center from the Class of 2013 by ESPN HoopGurlz. Who am I to discredit ESPN's rankings, but if Savanna Trapp's the 20th best center in that class, then there must be some serious depth in high school girls basketball.

Back in September, Prospect-Central actually featured the #1 female player in the Class of 2013 Mercedes Russell. The 6-foot-5 Tennessee commit is definitely worthy of her ranking, but it's hard to imagine there's a girl in high school basketball more intimidating than Savanna Trapp.

When it comes to extremely tall female basketball players, the gold standard has to be 6-foot-8 Brittney Griner. In my opinion, Griner will probably go down as the greatest women's player of all-time.

Trapp might not be the next Brittney Griner, but if she ever makes it to the WNBA, she'll become the 2nd tallest player in the history of that league. Once that time is upon her, she'll more than likely have some big shoes to fill. With her size fifteens however, don't be surprised if Savanna Trapp leaves her footprints all over the game of women's basketball after it's all said and done. * Below is a video feature as well as a written article from a local Minnesota News Station Kare11, going into more detail about the 6-foot 9-inch high school senior Savanna Trapp.

ESKO, Minn. -- Great stories come in all shapes, forms and, in this case, sizes.

One would think nothing big ever happens in tiny Esko, Minnesota.  But that would be wrong.

At the only four-way stop in town sits the home of the Eskimos, and a tall tale you have to see to believe. Her name is Savanna Trapp and at 6-foot-9 she stands out on the basketball court. Savanna's believed to be the tallest girls basketball player ever in Minnesota, and one of the tallest in the country this season.

Savanna Trapp scoring an easy bucket
For 6'9", she has good feet around the basket and the ability to finish. At a recent game against Floodwood, she scored a season-high 30 points. Her teammates did a great of of feeding her the ball. Try as they might, the defense couldn't stop her.

But it's on defense where Savanna may be most intimidating. Imagine driving the lane and seeing Savanna waiting to swat your shot. She said she enjoys blocking shots even more than scoring points.

"Just the look on the opponent's face, 'Did that just happen?' look," she said with a smile.

When you're as tall and as good as Savanna, you attract a lot of attention. She has received dozens and dozens of college recruiting letters. Savanna's first college basketball offer came from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee when she was in 8th grade. And the recruiting letters didn't stop until she signed a college tender with UCLA last November.

From tiny Esko, Minnesota to Los Angeles, it will mean big changes for everybody in the family.

"We don't have cable or satellite TV, and we really want to get PAC-12 network, we can get some of games on internet, stream live, get a bigger TV, too," explained Savanna's mother, Krissy Trapp.

It's not every day you walk the school hallways and see a girl have to duck her head while entering a doorway, but Savanna does.

"Off the court I try not to be intimidating at all, smiling helps with that," she said.

She is a great student and plans to study marine biology at UCLA. She loves to read and she's a people-person, but most of all, she loves basketball.

She admits her conditioning isn't the best. And, she knows that to play at the next level, she has to get stronger. Those are things a redshirt year should fix.

The future UCLA Bruin Savanna Trapp
Savanna knows her days on the basketball court won't last forever, but she'll always be 6'9".

"I'm content being just the way I am, it's how I've always been and I love it. There's a bit of an attention factor that's kind of fun, too, sometimes," Savanna said.

There is a self-adopted special club for tall girls like Savanna, and she's adding friends all the time.

"Sometimes on Facebook I'll get different notifications and friend requests from different tall girls from different states and stuff saying, 'Hey we've heard about you, where do you get your clothes?' and we discuss all this fun stuff you know, tall girl stuff," explained Savanna.

For the record, Savanna wears a size 15 men's shoe and has some clothes custom made.

Thanks to extensive travel through AAU basketball, Savanna says she's ready for life outside Minnesota, ready to prove this tall tale isn't just Minnesota myth.

"And it's kind of taught me that adventure is good and I'm ready for a new adventure, you know, I love my small town Esko, but I'm ready for the next step in my life," she added.

By the way, tall runs in the family. Savanna's Dad is 6'9'', her mom is 6'4''. Savanna's little sister is a sophomore who stands 6'5", and her 7th grade brother is now 6'6'' and is projected to reach 7 feet by the time he's done growing. Original Article.