High-SchoolBoys-Basketball: Indiana

Players give top 5 reasons to sign early

November, 9, 2011
11/09/11
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There’s a common misconception about the country’s elite high school ballers when it comes to the NCAA’s early signing period, which begins today and runs through Nov. 16.

“Sometimes people think we wait until the spring so we can be the last one to sign,” said Shabazz Muhammad, a senior swingman at Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas) and the top player in the ESPNU 100. “That’s definitely not true. Trust me; I’d rather be signing with everyone else this week. I’m definitely not doing this for attention.”

Rose
Scott Kurtz/ESPNHSL.J. Rose said signing early gives you more credibility when trying to recruit fellow players.

Muhammad will likely decide and sign in the spring; a mistake to hear some of his fellow ballers tell it.

We caught up with five players and had them dish on the top five reasons why it’s better to sign early.

5. Reduces stress.
Yogi Ferrell, Park Tudor (Greenfield, Ind.), 2012, PG
Signing with: Indiana
“The recruitment process can be one big headache with all of the media interviews and all of the coaches calling and you having to remember to call them back and things like that. When you sign during the early period you sleep better because there’s no stress. That stuff is stressful and it gets to be a lot when people are constantly asking you where you’re going. I definitely know that I’m reducing my stress by signing this week.”

4. Stops the calls from coming.
Rasheed Sulaimon, Strake Jesuit (Houston), 2012, SG
Signing with: Duke
“When you’re open you get so much attention from all of the different media sites wanting to know who your favorites are and what the visit was like that you just went on and what coach you talk to the most. It can be a lot with all of the practices we have and all of the work we have during school. Plus, on top of that, you’ve got all the coaches calling you to try and get you to their school and checking on you to see if you’re still open to their school. But when you sign on the dotted line all of that stops. I guess it’s not as big a story when you already know where you’re going, but when your phones not ringing all the time it gives you more time to work on what you need to work on.”

3. Gives you credibility to actively recruit other players.
L.J. Rose, Westbury Christian (Houston), 2012, PG
Signing with: Baylor
“When you’re committed it’s one thing, but when you sign with a school it shows a higher level of commitment to that school. That only shows the other players that you’re trying to recruit to join you that you’re actually coming to the school. People de-commit all the time so if someone was trying to get me to join them and they were committed but said they were waiting to sign in the late period I would be a little skeptical about that. Maybe they’re looking to see who will jump on them late? To go ahead and sign now lets the players know how serious you are about them joining you. It helps sell your school better.”

2. Gives you time to work on your game.
Marcus Paige, Linn-Mar (Marion, Iowa), 2012, PG
Signing with: North Carolina
“Basically, during the season you’re busy practicing with your team throughout the week and playing games so most of the time any individual work that you do is on the weekends. That’s hard to do when you’re traveling to different schools taking unofficial and official visits every weekend. It leaves you no time to get those individual workouts in to work on the weaker parts of your game, but when you’re signed you can have your weekends to work on everything. Plus, you’ll have the coaches from your future college chiming in on what you need to work on during those weekend workouts. That’s the best part about signing during the early period; it frees you up to work on your game.”

1. Allows you to focus on your season.
Justin Anderson, Montrose Christian (Rockville, Md.), 2012, SF
Signing with: Virginia
“When you sign early there is absolutely no pressure on you to perform well enough to land the best scholarship possible. That’s everyone’s goal. So when you’ve already signed you’ve already reached your goal and you can kick back and relax and go into your last season ready to dominate and win. People don’t understand how much pressure deciding on a school is. You can’t honestly say that your main focus is on your season when you haven’t signed yet. That’s why it’s so important to go ahead and get that out of the way before your season starts.”

Jason Jordan is the basketball editor for ESPNHS. He can be reached at jason.x.jordan.-ND@espn.com. Don't forget to follow him on Twitter: @JayJayESPN

Eliminating emotions after visits is key

November, 8, 2011
11/08/11
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All Julius Randle needed was a cell phone because he was ready to dial.

Two years ago when he visited Oklahoma, Randle, a junior forward at Prestonwod Christian (Plano, Texas), had the time of his life.

The campus was beautiful; the fans were overly passionate and showed him lots of love, the co-eds were easy on the eyes and the coaches and players treated him like family.

Tony Parker
Kelly Kline/ESPNHSTony Parker said a strong support system is necessary to eliminate emotions from decisions.

“It was such a great visit,” Randle recalled. “I had a ball.”

So much that he was ready to get then head coach Jeff Capel (now an assistant at Duke) on the line and pledge his allegiance to Sooner Nation.

“I was ready to commit,” said Randle, who is ranked No. 3 in the ESPNU 60. “I had a ball and I loved everything about the campus. Coach Capel and I were close and I loved what he was doing. I had so much fun that I was ready to be a Sooner. Then I got the best advice that I could ever get. My mom and coach told me to not to get caught up in the emotions of the visit.”

Randle took a few days and realized that they were right.

“I ended up going on another visit and had even more fun on that visit,” Randle said. “That showed me right there the importance of stepping away from the situation. You can get caught up on those visits.”

Most players who plan to sign during the NCAA’s Early Signing Period, which starts tomorrow and runs through Nov. 16, have been there, and they all agree that in order to make the best decision possible it’s imperative that emotions remain a non-factor.

“Emotions come for everyone,” said Mitch McGary, a senior at Brewster Academy (Wolfeboro, N.H.) who committed to Michigan last week. “You’ve got to go into the visit knowing that you’re gonna have the time of your life and you’ve got to be able to separate that and make an informed decision. Sometimes guys get caught up in the emotion of it all.”

Rodney Purvis said that’s what happened to him when he committed to Louisville last December only to de-commit in May.

Purvis, a senior combo guard at Upper Room Christian Academy (Raleigh, N.C.), was close to Cardinals assistant Tim Fuller, who eventually left to take an assistant job at Missouri.

“I definitely feel like I made an emotional decision in a way,” said Purvis, who plans to sign with North Carolina State this week. “I committed to Louisville because Coach Fuller was there, but I went out there and had a great few visits and I was ready to commit. It’s so important to do your homework on the schools that you’re interested in. Got to keep your emotions in check.”

That’s where a strong support system comes in handy, according to Tony Parker, a senior forward at Miller Grove (Lithonia, Ga.).

“I’ve got parents that make sure I don’t get too drawn in with all of the promises and fun times that I have,” said Parker, who will decide between Ohio State, Memphis, Duke and Georgetown. “That’s really important because you end up having the time of your life on those visits. So I started going in to every visit saying ‘I know this is gonna be a 10.’ That helped and my parents helped with that. This isn’t something you wanna rush.”

Still, sometimes you just know.

That was certainly the case for Isaiah Hicks, a junior forward at Oxford Webb (Oxford, N.C.). He got an offer from North Carolina coach Roy Williams during a visit to the campus in August and an hour and a half later, on his ride back home, Hicks called Williams back and accepted.

Yogi Ferrell didn’t even bother to wait until he was in the car last November when he visited Indiana. Ferrell told Indiana coach Tom Crean and his staff before he left.

“It was the right decision for me,” said Ferrell, a senior point guard at Park Tudor (Greenfield, Ind.) who plans to sign with the Hoosiers this week. “Was it an emotional decision? I guess you could say that, but not all emotional decisions mean that they’re wrong. I knew what I was gonna do. My best advice for younger guys is to follow your gut. If that feeling that you’re ready to commit stays with you then it just may be right.”

Jason Jordan is the basketball editor for ESPNHS. He can be reached at jason.x.jordan.-ND@espn.com. Don't forget to follow him on Twitter: @JayJayESPN

Final sales pitches for McGary

November, 2, 2011
11/02/11
1:43
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Related Link: McGary Blog: Ready To Decide

As the country waits to hear Mitch McGary announce where he’s decided to play college ball, recruits who are committed to his final three schools – Michigan, Duke and Florida – have decided to take one last stab at selling McGary on their future schools.

Makes sense since McGary told ESPNHS that, contrary to popular belief, he’s still undecided.

Here are the sales pitches:
Rasheed
Scott Kurtz/ESPNHSDuke recruit Rasheed Sulaimon thinks the Blue Devils are a no-brainer for Mitch McGary.
“Join the Evil Empire.”
Rasheed Sulaimon
, Strake Jesuit (Houston), 2012, SG
Committed to: Duke
“Mitch, you definitely need to be a Blue Devil because you're absolutely a Duke player. You fit into our style really well and with the guys we’ll have coming in we’ll be able to accomplish some really big things. I think we can win a national championship our freshman year with all of the talent that we’ll have on the team and compete for multiple titles after that. Also, Mitch, it doesn’t get better than playing for Coach K (Mike Krzyzewski). He’s the USA Basketball coach and he’s linked to every great basketball player in the NBA. Plus he’s about to be the all-time winningest coach in college basketball history. Who else can say that? Why wouldn’t you want to play for the best coach and the best program? Plus, the social life at Duke is great. We’ve got the most dedicated fans in the world. What are you waiting for?”

“Bring the Wolverines back to the Fab Five days.”
Glenn Robinson III
, Lake Central (St. John, Ind.), 2012, SF
Committed to: Michigan
“Mitch, please come to Michigan man. We’ve been playing together for years in AAU and we’ve combined to do big things on that level. I know we’ll only continue it in college. We’ll have a top five recruiting class and we’ll bring Michigan back to the Fab Five days. We’ll change the whole program around and bring them back to national title contenders if you come. Plus, Michigan is one of the most fun campuses in the country. All of the students are so supportive of the basketball program. All of the students know everything about you. You’ll get so much more attention here. We’ve got a great academic reputation, of course, and we’ve got some of the best looking girls in the country. Everything that you want and need is here at Michigan.”

“No-brainer to be a Gator.”
Braxton Ogbueze
, United Faith Christian Academy (Charlotte, N.C.), 2012, PG
Committed to: Florida
“Mitch, Florida is where you need to be because it’s a great fit for you. Coach (Billy) Donovan is the best coach that you can possibly be coached by. He knows how to work his guards and big men together perfectly and there’s no better place than Florida. Think about it, millions of people come to Florida every year for vacation so why wouldn’t you want to spend your college career here? It would be a smart decision to come here because you’ll get better and you’ll win and you’ll be in a great location around great people. Then you’ve got the great weather and the young ladies here are beautiful. Second to none.”

Jason Jordan is the basketball editor for ESPNHS. He can be reached at jason.x.jordan.-ND@espn.com. Don't forget to follow him on Twitter: @JayJayESPN

Hoopers play dress up for Halloween

October, 30, 2011
10/30/11
10:56
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Zena Endosomwan was relieved.

All of the stressing and agonizing over Halloween costumes had finally come to an end by answering one simple, two-part question: If you had to dress up as the player that you most resemble on the court, who would it be and why?

“That should help me out!” said Endosomwan, a senior forward at Harvard-Westlake (Los Angeles).

ESPNHS didn’t stop there; we posed the same question to a handful of elite ballers around the country.

Here’s what they had to say…

Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell, Park Tudor, (Greenfield, Ind.), 2012, PG
Committed to: Indiana
Halloween costume: Isiah Thomas
Why: “I’d have to say I’d dress up as Isiah because I want to do great things at Indiana like he did.”

Noel
Steve Johnson/ESPNHSNerlens Noel said he wants to decide around the time of the McDonald's All-American game.
Archie Goodwin, Sylvan Hills (Little Rock, Ark.), 2012, SG
Committed to: Kentucky
Halloween costume: Michael Jordan
Why: “Well, I’ve actually heard this from a lot of different coaches on the AAU circuit plus Rick Barnes from Texas and Roy Williams from North Carolina told me this too… They said that I remind them of Michael Jordan when he was in high school. It’s a great honor to hear that because of who he became so I’d definitely have to dress as him.”

Nerlens Noel, Tilton, (Tilton, N.H.), 2013, C
Uncommitted
Halloween costume:
Kevin Garnett
Why: “I’d dress up as K.G. because he and I are similar because of his defensive presence, his leadership and his competitiveness.”

Rodney Purvis, Upper Room Christian Academy (Raleigh, N.C.), 2012, SG
Committed to: N.C. State
Halloween costume: John Wall (Washington Wizards)
Why: “I’d definitely go as John because he’s someone I look up to and he’s a really positive person like me. We’re both fast guards who are willing to do whatever it takes to win.”

L.J. Rose, Westbury Christian (Houston), 2012, PG
Committed to: Baylor
Halloween costume: Deron Williams (New Jersey Nets)
Why: “I’d dress like Deron Williams because, like me, he isn’t as athletic as the rest of the point guards in the league, but with his size he can dominate the game in so many different ways. He also has a great feel for the game.”

Zena Endosomwan, Harvard-Westlake (Los Angeles), 2012, PF
Uncommitted
Halloween costume: Serge Ibaka (Oklahoma City Thunder)
Why: “I’d dress as Serge because we’re both athletic, African, like to run and we play the same position. Oh, and we’re both really dark.”

Rasheed Sulaimon, Strake Jesuit (Houston), 2012, SG
Committed to: Duke
Halloween costume: Jamal Crawford (Atlanta Hawks)
Why: “I’d dress like Jamal Crawford because the way I play is very similar to him. He’s a combo guard that can play both the one and the two; plus he can create his own shot and create for his teammates as well. He’s a good shooter, both off the dribble and stationary, and he makes shots when they count the most.”

Isaiah Austin, Grace Prep (Arlington, Texas), 2012, C
Committed to: Baylor
Halloween costume: Austin Daye (Detroit Pistons)
Why: “I’d dress as Austin Daye because like him I can play both inside and out. That and we’re both long and athletic.”

Gabe York, Orange Lutheran (Orange, Calif.), 2012, SG
Committed to: Arizona
Halloween costume: Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City Thunder)
Why: “I’d have to say that it would be Russell Westbrook. We’re both guards that can shoot and are very athletic. He’s just an explosive point guard who can drive to the basket and finish strong.”

Matt Jones, DeSoto (DeSoto, Texas), 2013, SG
Uncommitted
Halloween costume: Ray Allen (Boston Celtics)
Why: “Definitely Ray Allen. It’s the shooting and the stature and the way we carry ourselves on and off the court. I think I could pull him off for Halloween. Plus if someone really thought that I was him and needed me to prove it by knocking down a lot of jumpers I think I could do it.”

Jason Jordan is the basketball editor for ESPNHS. He can be reached at jason.x.jordan.-ND@espn.com. Don't forget to follow him on Twitter: @JayJayESPN

Goodwin makes Cats even more attractive

September, 21, 2011
9/21/11
3:56
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Goodwin Picks Kentucky

When Archie Goodwin took to Twitter Tuesday night to announce what he’d known ever since Kentucky coach John Calipari left his house less than a week ago, he expected that the response would be overwhelming.

“Any time someone commits it’s big news,” said Goodwin, a senior shooting guard at Sylvan Hills (Little Rock, Ark.). “But when you commit to a place like Kentucky, it can be a little crazy. There’s so much tradition there.”

Archie Goodwin
Steven Johnson/ESPNHSArchie Goodwin said he wants to play with other top players.

Goodwin, who is ranked No. 13 in the ESPNU 100, picked the Wildcats over Memphis and Arkansas, and estimates that he’s fielded “more than 100 calls” since 11 p.m. last night from reporters, friends, family and fans.

“When I woke up this morning I had 160 text messages, 40 voicemails and I had over 200 emails,” Goodwin said. “It’s crazy. I’ve got about 2,000 more followers on Twitter since Tuesday night at 11 p.m. I couldn’t get to a lot of the calls, there were just so many.”

Goodwin did, however, find time to answer a few; specifically the ones he got from recruits expressing their interest in joining him in Lexington.

Hamilton Southeastern’s (Fishers, Ind.) Gary Harris, a senior shooting guard who is ranked No. 10 in the ESPNU 100, and Arlington Country Day’s (Jacksonville, Fla.) Torian Graham, a senior shooting guard who is ranked No. 38, both contacted Goodwin congratulating him and inquiring about the possibility of playing together in college.

And though Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas, Nev.) swingman Shabazz Muhammad, the top-ranked player in the ESPNU 100, didn’t say so last night, Goodwin said the two have spoken about the possibility of teaming up as well.

“I told them let’s do it,” Goodwin said. “I’m not that guy who’s gonna pressure anyone so I let them reach out to me first, but when they do I definitely try and get them to join me. I want to play with the best because I think it’s the best way to win. And I definitely plan to win.”

Don't forget to follow Jason Jordan on Twitter: @JayJayESPN

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