High-SchoolBoys-Basketball: Isaiah Lewis

AAU notebook: NCAA coaches inspire

April, 30, 2012
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HAMPTON, Va. -- CP3 All Stars (N.C.) swingman Theo Pinson doesn’t mind admitting that when he glanced over to the sideline and saw coaches from Duke, North Carolina, Syracuse, North Carolina State and others watching his every move, it gave him extra incentive to work even harder on the court.

Pinson and CP3 were one of 40 teams competing in the second of four sessions in Nike’s Elite Youth Basketball League here last weekend. The teams are vying for one of 24 spots in the Nike Peach Jam in July.

“Some guys say they block it out, but I don’t think that’s real,” said Pinson, a sophomore who is ranked No. 9 in the ESPN 25. “I definitely think to myself that I need to do the little things and play better defense and concentrate on playing harder. The coaches are the big motivator.”

Metro Hawks (N.Y.) junior guard Isaiah Lewis agreed.

He said that seeing the coaches who are recruiting him made him want to play harder to reinforce the fact that they want him.

“You don’t want that interest to drop off,” Lewis said. “There are so many good players in this league, and you just want to come out and play the best that you can. The coaches help you with that.”

Last of the Unbeatens

With the second session of the EYBL in the books, CIA Bounce (Can.) is the lone undefeated team. The Canadians won five games this weekend by an average of 18.6 points per game and now sit at 9-0.

Bounce guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes said that even though they’re the last undefeated squad, there’s no pressure to remain perfect.

“We’re just going to keep going out and performing at a high level,” he said. “We feel we can go undefeated throughout the entire season.”

Parker Sits Out

Mac Irvin Fire (Ill.) had to compete without its biggest piece this weekend, swingman Jabari Parker who is the top player in the ESPN 60. Parker stayed back in Chicago to nurse a sprained ankle and to receive an award, according to his teammate Jahlil Okafor.

“We just had to keep playing hard without him,” said Okafor, a sophomore center who is ranked No. 2 in the ESPN 25.

The Fire went 3-2 this weekend without Parker, who is expected to be ready for session three in Dallas on May 11-13.

Randle’s Shoe Obsession

Julius Randle had to bring an extra bag on his trip to Hampton for the second session of Nike’s Elite Youth Basketball League, but it wasn’t for extra clothes. Randle needed a bag to store seven pairs of shoes.

“I mean come on, I’m a ball player,” said Randle, a junior forward who ran with Team Texas Titans. “I’ve got to switch up my shoes for my different games.”
Randle wasn’t kidding.

From Kobe Bryant’s grey and blacks shoes to Kevin Durant’s black and blues, Randle wore a different pair each time he took the floor.

“I’m just a sneaker guy, I guess,” said Randle, who is ranked No. 2 in the ESPN 60. “That’s just my thing.”

Rim Bender

Mac Irvin Fire (Ill.) center Jahlil Okafor caused quite a stir in his game against the Georgia Stars in the morning session on Sunday. Okafor bent the rim down when he missed a dunk in the second half, stopping play for more than an hour.

Immediately, players and spectators ran from the adjoining courts to snap pictures of the bent rim.

Eventually, the game was moved to another court and Mac Irvin won 65-51.

Ballers dish on goals for AAU

April, 26, 2012
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This time last year Rodney Purvis, a senior shooting guard at Upper Room Christian Academy (Raleigh, N.C.), was intent on using the AAU season to improve his all-around game.

“I wanted to get better in every aspect of my game,” said Purvis, an N.C. State signee. “That was what I was focused on.”

A year later, Purvis has won a state title, was named North Carolina’s Mr. Basketball, made the McDonald’s All-American Game and won MVP of the Jordan Brand All-American Game.

He even won the ESPNHS Fans’ Choice Player of the Year award.

“Hard work pays off,” Purvis said. “Younger guys have to go into AAU with goals. That’s the key.”

We caught up with a handful of underclassmen and had them dish on their goals for the AAU season.

Julius Randle
High School: Prestonwood Christian (Plano, Texas), 2013, PF
AAU Team: Team Texas Titans
Undecided
My goal for the AAU season is to …
“Gain a better understanding of the game and to learn to read defenses better. Right now I’m still learning when and how to attack the defense. They end up loading up on me. So I want to increase my basketball IQ.”

Tyus Jones
High School: Apple Valley (Apple Valley, Minn.), 2014, PG
AAU Team: Howard Pulley Panthers
Undecided
My goal for the AAU season is to …
“Become a more vocal leader and a better rebounder and a better defender.”

Isaiah Lewis
High School: Christ the King (Middle Village, N.Y.), 2013, SG
AAU Team: NY Metro Hawks
Undecided
My goal for the AAU season is to …
“Be a top 50 player. I’ve been improving my game since my freshman year and I’m gonna show everyone this summer.”

Jahlil Okafor
High School: Whitney Young (Chicago), 2014, C
AAU Team: Mac Irvin Fire
Undecided
My goal for the AAU season is to …
“Be a better defender. I want to be able to be able to defend out of my area and become more of a shot blocker. I have most of the offense down, but I’m really concentrating on my defense to be more of a threat.”

Wayne Selden
High School: Tilton (N.H.), 2014, SG
AAU Team: BABC
Undecided
My goal for the AAU season is to …
“Improve my overall game and polish all of my skills. Coming off of an injury that had me out for almost three months I feel like I have a lot to gain this AAU season. I want to take my offensive and defensive game to another level.”

Brannen Greene
High School: Mary Persons (Monroe, Ga.), 2013, SG
AAU Team: Florida Rams
Committed to: Kansas
My goal for the AAU season is to …
“Gain more exposure and play against the best competition. I want to become the best player that I can be. I already know where I’m going to school so I’m just working hard to get better and play in the Elite 24, McDonald’s and Jordan Brand.”

Austin Nichols
High School: Briarcrest (Eads, Tenn.), 2013, PF
AAU Team: M33M
Undecided
My goal for the AAU season is to …
“Have fun knowing that this is my last year. I also want to play to the best of my ability.”

Jason Jordan is the basketball editor for ESPNHS. Don't forget to follow him on Twitter: @JayJayESPN

Players predict where Muhammad, Noel will go

April, 9, 2012
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Shabazz Muhammad knows that, on the surface, it seems glamorous to have the option of picking between heavyweights like Duke, UCLA, Kentucky, UNLV and Kansas.

Still, he’s quick to point out the flip side.

“The stress,” said Muhammad, a senior swingman at Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas) who is ranked No. 2 in the ESPNU 100. “It definitely isn’t as fun as people think. It’s all you think about. It’s a tough decision.”

Nerlens Noel can attest to that.

As the top-ranked player in the ESPNU 100, Noel said it only makes it harder “when you really can’t go wrong wherever you decide to go.”

Both Noel and Muhammad will make their decisions live on Recruiting Nation's Signing Day Special Show at 7:30 p.m. ET April 11 on ESPNU.

“People don’t understand how tough this is,” said Noel, a senior center at Tilton (N.H.) who will choose between Georgetown, Kentucky and Syracuse. “It’s the toughest decision I’ve ever had to make. Everyone thinks they know where we’re going.”

Especially their peers.

We caught up with a bunch of players from around the country and had them weigh in on where they think the top two seniors in the country will land.

Matt Jones
DeSoto (DeSoto, Texas), 2013, SG
Committed to: Duke
Noel’s headed to …
“Kentucky. I played with him last weekend at a tournament and you should’ve seen him watching Louisville play against Kentucky. It was like he could envision himself there.”
Muhammad’s headed to …
“Duke. He sees that he could come in and have the same impact that Austin Rivers did.”

Jabari Parker
Simeon (Chicago), 2013, SF
Undecided
Noel’s headed to …
“Boston College. [Laughs] Just kidding, Georgetown.”
Muhammad’s headed to …
“UC Santa Barbara. [Laughs] Just kidding, UCLA.”

Mitch McGary
Brewster Academy (Wolfeboro, N.H.), 2012, F
Signed to: Michigan
Noel’s headed to …
“Kentucky. Great recruiting class coming in and they just won the national title so that’s got to appeal to him.”
Muhammad’s headed to …
“Kentucky. Same reasons as Nerlens.”

Isaiah Lewis
Christ the King (Middle Village, N.Y.), 2013, SG
Undecided
Noel’s headed to …
“Kentucky. He’s a one-and-done type and that’s where you go for that.”
Muhammad’s headed to …
“UCLA. I think he and Kyle Anderson are gonna do work.”

Rasheed Sulaimon
Strake Jesuit (Houston), 2012, SG
Signed to: Duke
Noel’s headed to …
“Kentucky. He’s the second coming of Anthony Davis. He’s tall with very long arms that he uses to impact the game on the defensive end and rebound.”
Muhammad’s headed to …
“Duke. I really believe that Shabazz is gonna join me next year because he’s a competitor and wants to win. Coach K is the ultimate competitor and does great with guards like Shabazz. I believe we can do a lot of damage right away.”

Rodney Purvis
Upper Room Christian Academy (Raleigh, N.C.), 2012, SG
Signed to: N.C. State
Noel’s headed to …
“Kentucky. That’s just my gut.”
Muhammad’s headed to …
“Kentucky. That’s just my gut feeling on him too.”

L.J. Rose
Westbury Christian (Houston), 2012, PG
Signed to: Baylor
Noel’s headed to …
“Kentucky. He’s gonna be compared to Anthony Davis and have that type of impact.”
Muhammad’s headed to …
“Kentucky. They’re just coming off a national title run and Rupp Arena will definitely be rocking next year with him there.”

Chris Walker
Holmes County (Bonifay, Fla.), 2013, F
Undecided
Noel’s headed to …
“Kentucky. He saw what Coach Cal did for Anthony Davis and he’ll feel like he can do the same for him. He’ll be one-and-done just like him.”
Muhammad’s headed to …
“UCLA. It’s the perfect fit with it being close to home and then he’ll have a great guard like Kyle Anderson there with him.”

Kris Jenkins
Gonzaga College (Washington, D.C.), 2013, F
Undecided
Noel’s headed to …
“Georgetown. That’s where all the big men go to develop.”
Muhammad’s headed to …
“Kentucky. He thinks Coach Cal can help him reach his goal of the NBA faster.”

Brannen Greene
Mary Persons (Monroe, Ga.), 2013, SG
Committed to: Kansas
Noel’s headed to …
“Kentucky. He sees the impact that Anthony Davis had this year and probably wants to do the same.”
Muhammad’s headed to …
“Kentucky. I think he wants to be one-and-done and he sees Kentucky as the perfect school for that.”

Wayne Selden
Tilton (N.H.), 2014, SG
Undecided
Noel’s headed to …
“Kentucky. He’d fit right in and replace Anthony Davis.”
Muhammad’s headed to …
“UCLA. I think he and Kyle Anderson would be a force in the Pac-12.”

Jahlil Okafor
Whitney Young (Chicago), 2014, F
Undecided
Noel’s headed to …
“Kentucky. He’ll replace Anthony Davis.”
Muhammad’s headed to …
“UCLA. He’ll team up with Kyle Anderson.”

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.

Players reflect on season regrets

March, 5, 2012
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Call him greedy, unsatisfied or, perhaps, unfulfilled. But even after a season of averaging 31 points per game, dominating countless times on ESPN and capping it all off with a state title, Shabazz Muhammad has a regret or two about the season as a whole.

[+] EnlargeT.J. Warren
Dave TelepT.J. Warren said he wouldn't change a thing about his one-loss season at Brewster.
“There’s always something you could’ve done better,” said Muhammad, a senior swingman who is ranked No. 2 in the ESPNU 100.

Plenty of players shared Muhammad’s sentiments when we asked them what, if anything, would they have changed about this past season.

Shabazz Muhammad
Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas), 2012, SF
Undecided

The thing I would’ve changed this season…
“That’s hard because I feel like I did pretty well this season with a lot of stuff. But I guess one of the things that I probably would take back is the game against Findlay Prep [Henderson, Nev.]. I want to get one more shot at them.”

Brannen Greene
Mary Persons (Monroe, Ga.), 2013, SG
Committed to: Kansas

The thing I would’ve changed this season…
“I would’ve let [my teammates] know I had all the confidence in the world in them and see where that would’ve gotten us. We had too many players with low self-esteem when it came to the court. I think that may have translated to game production.”

Wayne Selden
Tilton (Tilton, N.H.), 2014, SG
Undecided

The thing I would’ve changed this season…
“I would’ve worked harder. Being hurt now and being out for the rest of the high school season, I wish I would’ve worked harder. I had those days of practice where I didn’t go as hard and I just took my health for granted. I was fully capable of going hard all the time but I slacked some days. Overall, I just wish I would’ve put forth more effort in the weight room and in practice. But when I get back healthy there’s no doubt that I’m gonna go harder than ever.”

T.J. Warren
Brewster Academy (Wolfeboro, N.H.), 2012, SF
Signed to: North Carolina State

The thing I would’ve changed this season…
“Nothing. Looking back, Brewster has developed me into a better player and an even better person. This is the best team I have ever played with. I feel like we could’ve beaten some D-I colleges. And it’s gonna be fun working toward this national title.”

Nerlens Noel
Tilton (Tilton, N.H.), 2012, C
Undecided

The thing I would’ve changed this season…
“I definitely would’ve hit more of my free throws against Brewster at the Hoophall. I think that made the difference in us losing that game.”

Kris Jenkins
Gonzaga College (Washington, D.C.), 2013, PF
Undecided

The thing I would’ve changed this season…
“I would’ve changed that last foul call in the semifinals against DeMatha. I fouled out on that one and I feel like we would’ve had a better chance to win the game if I was in there.”

Isaiah Lewis
Christ the King (Middle Village, N.Y.), 2013, SG
Undecided

The thing I would’ve changed this season…
“Is definitely getting more rest when we’re on the road at big tournaments. That lack of sleep definitely had an impact on the way I played. I’d get a lot more sleep.”

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.

Kings of the contact period

October, 9, 2011
10/09/11
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Last Wednesday marked the end of the NCAA’s contact period, which had been in effect since September 9. That meant hundreds of high school hoopers around the country had to sift through all of their visits from college coaches and decide who made the most lasting impressions.

We rounded up a handful of the top players in the country and had them dish on the big winners over the last month.

Coolest customers: Providence

Brannen Greene, Mary Persons (Monroe, Ga.), 2013, SG: “Coach (Ed) Cooley told me he only recruits anacondas and not garden snakes. Very cool guy.”

Best perspective: Texas Christian

Julius Randle
Kelly Kline/ESPNHSJulius Randle was impressed with TCU's "create your own legacy" perspective.
Julius Randle, Prestonwood Christian (Plano, Texas), 2013, F: “TCU gave me a whole different way to look at things. They told me that I could come in and change the program and begin my own legacy. That’s a different perspective than the other schools. A lot of those schools can’t present that to me. Most already have hall of fame players. So definitely TCU on perspective because who wouldn’t want to have their very own legacy.”

Most swag: Kentucky

Chris Walker, Holmes County (Bonifay, Fla.), 2013, F: “The coach with the most swag… I would have to say Coach (John) Calipari and assistant Coach Orlando (Antigua). They came in and everyone was going crazy. Coach Cal is running things and he’s put a lot of players in the NBA. Plus he came in wearing a suit. That’s swag.”

Best sales pitch: Duke

Shabazz Muhammad, Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas, Nev.), 2012, SF: “Coach K (Mike Krzyzewski) definitely has the best sales pitch. He talks a lot about the Duke brand and what he could do for me and how he could develop me and about all of the exposure that I could get at Duke. I think the thing that makes his sales pitch so good is that he’s really speaking from the heart. That’s the best part.”

Most relatable: Louisville

Isaiah Lewis, Christ the King (Middle Village, N.Y.), 2013, SG: “I just had fun getting to know the coaches at Louisville, especially Coach (Wyking) Jones. After my workout he offered me, but that was in the middle of us talking about school, football, what kind of shoes we like. He just seemed like one of the guys. I definitely felt like he was just one of my friends.”

Best gear: Georgetown

Troy Williams, Phoebus (Hampton, Va.), 2013, SF: “Definitely had to be Georgetown because they wear Jordan everything. The shoes were just fresh and the sweat suits they had were cool. I told them I like to ball in Nike's, but I walk around in J's. They had on the new Melo’s (Carmelo Anthony) and they weren’t tied all the way up.”

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

Lewis learns from tragedy

September, 13, 2011
9/13/11
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ESPNHS - New York

Isaiah Lewis can still remember sitting courtside watching Tayshana Murphy, or “Chicken” as she was more commonly known, give his Royals from Christ the King (Middle Village, N.Y.) “the business” almost every time she faced them.

“She used to just give it to our girls out there,” said Lewis, a junior shooting guard for the Royals. “I’d always watch her play when our girls played against her. She was definitely a special player. You just could tell that she was gonna make it in basketball.”
Isaiah Lewis
Anthony Doran/ESPNHSIsaiah Lewis said he's in shock after the murder of Tayshana Murphy Sunday.

Those dreams were dashed early Sunday morning, when Murphy, 18, was shot to death at a housing project in Harlem's Morningside Heights neighborhood where she lived. Media reports suggest that Murphy, a senior at Murry Bergtraum (Manhattan, N.Y.), may have been the victim of mistaken identity.

“It’s just so tragic,” Lewis said. “Everyone was talking about it on Monday. I haven’t even cried. It’s like everyone’s in shock. Tayshana and I knew each other through basketball for the most part, but it’s still hard because my girlfriend, Nyree Alston, is her sister.”

Lewis classified getting the call from Alston on Sunday as “something you never want to have to experience.”

“She was just hysterical when she called and told me what happened,” said Lewis, a highly-touted guard who is considering Louisville, Florida, North Carolina, Kansas and Kentucky among others. “I just have to be there for her and her family. It’s hard because she was just here and now… She’s gone.”

Murphy was rated No. 16 among point guards in 2012 by ESPN.com's HoopGurlz recruiting site and had drawn interest from several colleges.

Lewis admitted that the tragic situation has served as a major eye-opener for him.

“It just goes to show you that none of us are invincible,” Lewis said. “Things like this really make you step back and think. That’s why I don’t stay out late and I’m always aware of who I’m hanging around and where I’m at. It’s just so sad because it sounds like she was in the wrong place at the wrong time. How can you avoid that?

“We’ll just try and remember the good things. She was a great basketball player and a great person. This didn’t have to happen.”

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

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