High-SchoolBoys-Basketball: Jordan Brand Classic

Nerlens' Notebook: UK all the way

April, 20, 2012
Nerlens NoelESPNHS IllustrationNerlens Noel, the top-ranked player in the ESPNU 100, blogs about his recruiting experience.
Nerlens Noel | Senior | Center | Tilton School (Tilton, N.H.)

Read all of Nerlens' Notebooks

After reclassifying from 2013 to 2012, Nerlens Noel went from being the No. 2-ranked junior to the No. 1-ranked senior in the ESPNU 100. He recently picked Kentucky over Georgetown and Syracuse. Noel has agreed to give ESPNHS exclusive access into his world by chronicling his thoughts in a blog.

What’s up, everyone. It’s the newest member of Big Blue Nation!

By now everyone knows that I picked Kentucky, and I am definitely happy with my decision and that it’s all finally over. I never let it get to the point that it stressed me out, but it was a lot to think about and it was a big decision so now I can just relax and focus on working to improve.

I know y’all liked the “UK” that I got cut into my head, right? I had been thinking about doing something big leading up to the decision, and that’s what I came up with. James McDonald from VIP Barbershop in Charlotte, N.C., hooked me up while I was in town for the Jordan Brand Classic.

I’ve decided to keep the “UK” throughout the college season. So it’s not going anywhere.

After the decision, I had a lot of fun at the Jordan Brand Classic. It’s one of the best events I’ve ever been to. We met Jadakiss, Kenny “The Jet” Smith and saw Fabolous perform after the game. The whole week was fun.

I got a chance to talk to my man Anthony Davis for a quick second at the game, too. He welcomed me to Big Blue Nation, and since I’ve been committed I’ve talked to Ryan Harrow and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Everyone’s excited about next year, but not as much as me.

I know that it’s gonna be a crazy year. I’ll probably get down there in June or July.

I think I’m mostly looking forward to the college life. I’m looking forward to more freedom. Here everything is really structured and scheduled, but in college you’ve got to be more responsible and you can get things done on your own time. I’m really looking forward to that.

My goals for next year are to win a national title first and foremost.

Then I want to beat Anthony Davis’ shot-block record, and I want to win National Player of the Year. I definitely plan to put the work in to accomplish those goals.

Other than that, I know a lot of people are asking if I’ve signed yet, and I am planning to sign this week. And I’m definitely going hard trying to get more guys to come play with me next year.

I’m trying to get Anthony Bennett. I’m not even sure where he’s at in his recruitment, but I think I can probably get it done. I’d say I have a little higher than a 50 percent chance of getting it done.

We’ll see how it goes.

Well, once again, thanks for reading my blog everyone and hanging out with me the whole time I was deciding on a college. It was a long process, but I’m glad it’s over and I’m glad to be a Kentucky Wildcat!

I’m out.

Don't forget to follow Nerlens Noel on Twitter: @NerlensNoel3

JBC Notebook: Shabazz finishes strong

April, 14, 2012

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- It didn’t really dawn on Shabazz Muhammad until he walked into Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, N.C., to play in the Jordan Brand Classic on Saturday, but when he thought about the fact that this was the last time he’d get the chance to lace 'em up as a high schooler, he could think of only one thing.

“It was important for me to finish strong,” said Muhammad, a UCLA-bound swingman at Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas). “This was the last time to go out and showcase what you can do with all of your friends, so it was important to finish strong and have fun.”

Muhammad had a ball leading the West past the East 99-95. He scored 20 points and grabbed four rebounds en route to claiming the West’s MVP trophy.

Rodney Purvis Jordan Game MVP
Kelly KlineN.C. State-bound guard Rodney Purvis scored a game-high 22 points to earn co-MVP honors at the Jordan Brand Classic.
Rodney Purvis, a shooting guard at Upper Room Christian Academy (Raleigh, N.C.), was named MVP for the East after scoring 22 points in the loss.

“We all had a lot of fun this week, but it was definitely important to go out with a strong performance,” Purvis said. “You want to set the tone for what you’re gonna do next season. Since I was playing in front of my hometown fans from NC State, I wanted to put on a good show.”

Noel’s Influx Of Followers
So much for the myth that once you commit to a college, you lose Twitter followers due to the fans of the schools you didn’t pick clicking the “unfollow” button.

When Nerlens Noel, a center at Tilton (Tilton, N.H.), announced Wednesday night on ESPNU that he was going to Kentucky, his Twitter-follower numbers skyrocketed from 23,000 to 38,000 that very night.

As of Saturday, he was up to 44,000 and counting.

“That’s the power of Big Blue Nation,” said Noel, who suited up for the East. “I knew they would have my back. That’s a major reason that I picked Kentucky. You can’t find better fans anywhere else on the planet.”

Parker Ready To Decide
Looks like we’re finally going to find out where Tony Parker is headed for college.

Parker, who is considering Duke, Ohio State, Georgia, UCLA, Georgetown, Kansas and Memphis, said he’ll make his decision late next week at his school.

“I haven’t worked out all of the details yet, but next week is the week,” said Parker, a forward at Miller Grove (Lithonia, Ga.) who suited up for the East. “I’m just ready to get it over with. It’s been a long process, and I’m ready for it to be over. I’m still weighing things out, but I gave myself 'til next week. That’s when it’s happening.”

Bennett For Three
On April 7, after Team USA battled back from an 18-point deficit, World Select forward Anthony Bennett buried a 3-pointer, which was deep by NBA standards, to thwart any chance of a USA win. World Select went on to win 84-75 at the Rose Garden in Portland, Ore.

At practice for the Jordan Brand Classic, Bennett, a senior forward at Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.), re-enacted the big shot during water breaks, taunting the eight All-Americans who had suited up for Team USA.

“It was a pretty good shot, huh?” Bennett said. “That thing was pretty!”

None of the other players agreed. Go figure.

Harrell Leads East
Hargrave Military Academy (Chatham, Va.) forward Montrezl Harrell scored 22 points and grabbed 12 rebounds to lead the East past the West 84-82 in the Jordan Brand Regional game.

Wesleyan Christian (High Point, N.C.) forward Montay Brandon led the West with 12 points, 12 rebounds and four assists.

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.

JBC stars reveal their No. 2 schools

April, 13, 2012
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Brandon Ashley is finally ready to reveal a few universal secrets about the recruiting process, secrets that are so exclusive he can only tell you at the end of his senior season.

“Hey, I mean, this is the last event of the year and, either way, I’m headed to Arizona. Why not?" said Ashley, who will suit up for the West in the Jordan Brand Classic on Saturday night at Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, N.C. (7 p.m. ET on ESPN).

That’s why his cunning grin said it all when he was posed with the first question: Do recruits really have a list of five to seven schools that they’re considering?

“To be honest, no,” Ashley said with a laugh. “That’s just something we put out there to keep it exciting. We put it out there in the media to build that suspense, but in our minds it’s like, 'I’m not going there.' It’s usually just two schools in the end.”

Rodney Purvis concurred.

He said that after a while, players get tired of the “same old boring questions that media guys ask” and decide to spice things up and make it fun.

“I would go on Twitter sometimes and say something like, 'It’s time to get away from my family and grow up,' and people would panic and say I was headed to UConn,” said Purvis, who will suit up for the East on Saturday. “I know for a fact that most of us do things like that, but Brandon’s right, it typically comes down to just two schools in the end.”

The operative questions are: Who came in second? And how close did it really come between the final two?

“Whoa, man, that’s some heavy stuff right there,” said Rasheed Sulaimon, who will suit up for the West. “That’s top-secret info right there. You sure you wanna know that?”

Oh indeed we do.

We caught up with a handful of Jordan Brand All-Americans and had them reveal which school they almost signed with.

Brandon Ashley
Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.), F
Signed to: Arizona

The school that came in second for me was …
“Oregon. I just had a great relationship with them and I just loved everything about that school. That said, I can honestly say that they weren’t anywhere close to Arizona for me. I don’t care what I said during the recruiting process. When I went on my visit to Arizona it was over.”

Rodney Purvis
Upper Room Christian Academy (Raleigh, N.C.), SG
Signed to: NC State

The school that came in second for me was …
“UConn. I gotta keep it real, it was super close. When I came back home from visiting there I said, 'I’m going to UConn.' Then I talked to my mom and she said to wait it out a little longer. The more I thought about it I knew that it was NC State. They were just in my heart. Coach [Mark] Gottfried did a great job recruiting me and every time I would shoot around at State it felt right. I remember when I was at UConn after we played pickup, I went back to the gym alone just to shoot around to see what feeling I got and it wasn’t the same. I didn’t sense that it was the right place for me.”

Rasheed Sulaimon
Strake Jesuit (Houston), SG
Signed to: Duke

The school that came in second for me was …
“North Carolina. I know I may lose cool points with my Duke fam for this one, but we’re keepin' it real tonight. Of the two schools, North Carolina recruited me first. I grew up a Duke fan, but at the same time when those letters come in you just get excited about who’s on you. North Carolina was leading for me. Then Duke came in and the separation was when I talked to Coach [Mike] Krzyzewski. We just got close really quick and built a strong relationship. I guess you could say Duke stole me away from North Carolina.”

Kelly Kline/ESPNHSKyle Anderson said that if UCLA didn't exist he'd be a Seton Hall Pirate.
Kyle Anderson
St. Anthony (Jersey City, N.J.), G/F
Signed to: UCLA

The school that came in second for me was …
“Seton Hall. I’ve never told anyone this, but this is crazy. Exactly a week before I chose UCLA I had decided that I was going to Seton Hall. It was a done deal. Then I had another talk with my family the next day and I felt like it was UCLA. If UCLA didn’t exist I’d be at Seton Hall, no question. I just couldn’t turn down [UCLA], the tradition, the weather, the beach, all the pros that play there in the summer. Plus I’m cool with Russell Westbrook and Kevin Love, just everything about it. And I mean, c’mon, it’s L.A.!”

Shabazz Muhammad
Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas), SF
Signed to: UCLA

The school that came in second for me was …
“I’m not just making this up either, but I promise you it could’ve gone either way between Duke and Kentucky. I promise. It was so tough saying 'thanks but no thanks' to those schools. With Duke, they needed a scorer and I knew if I added myself to that team it would really be successful with the guys they had coming back. Then with Kentucky, you’ve got Archie [Goodwin], Alex [Poythress] and Nerlens [Noel] coming in, and if I joined them I know we could’ve done big things. I’m telling you it was just crazy tough. UCLA was just the best fit for me in the end.”

Archie Goodwin
Sylvan Hills (Little Rock, Ark.), SG
Signed to: Kentucky

The school that came in second for me was …
“Kansas. I love coach Bill Self and I loved Kansas. The school was great, the fans were great and they did a great job recruiting me, but, honestly, there wasn’t anything they could’ve done to get me. I had been saying since the ninth grade that I wanted to play for Coach [John] Calipari. I tried to give everyone a chance, but I never got the same feeling I did with Coach Cal.”

Alex Poythress
Northeast (Clarksville, Tenn.), SF
Signed to: Kentucky

The school that came in second for me was …
“Vanderbilt. It was so close. They were recruiting me for the longest and I honestly had the best feel for that school. But in the end I just had to go with my gut feeling. But it was close.”

J.P. Tokoto
Menomonee Falls (Menomonee Falls, Wis.), SF
Signed to: North Carolina

The school that came in second for me was …
“Wisconsin. It was home and it felt right, but once I visited North Carolina and talked to the players and guys that were coming in, it was a no-brainer.”

Nerlens Noel
Tilton School (Tilton, N.H.), C
Signed to: Kentucky

The school that came in second for me was …
“Georgetown. My mom really liked them a lot. She was sold on them. She loved how family-oriented they were and, like I said in my blog, my mom’s opinion was what mattered most to me. We had to sit down and talk and I had to really get her to take a longer look at Kentucky. Then when she did she started to like them a lot, too. But it was pretty close, man. It was pretty close.”

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.

JBC stars dish on their favorite Jordans

April, 12, 2012

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Back in February, when Miller Grove (Lithonia, Ga.) forward Tony Parker learned that he’d be suiting up for the East in the 2012 Jordan Brand Classic at Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte (7 p.m. ET Saturday on ESPN), he was most excited about the fact that he’d get the chance to meet Michael Jordan.

“I’ve got to thank him for all these hot shoes he makes that have given me all this game,” Parker said with a laugh. “I wonder what Jordans we’re gonna hoop in. That’s important, you know.”

Indeed it is.

After all, Spike Lee, er Mars Blackmon, has been saying it in Air Jordan commercials since the early 1990s: "It's gotta be the shoes."

That begs the question: Which Jordans are the best to ball in?

We caught up with the Jordan Brand All-Americans to get the low down.

Shabazz Muhammad

Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas), SF

Signed to: UCLA

The best Jordans to hoop in are ...

“I’d have to say the 9’s because I hooped in them all year and they’re really comfortable.”

Archie Goodwin

Sylvan Hills (Little Rock, Ark.), SG

Signed to: Kentucky

The best Jordans to hoop in are ...

“I’d definitely have to say that the Concord 11’s are the best shoes to hoop in. They’re light and those colors really set it off. They’re just really comfortable and I honestly like all the Jordans, but if I had to pick one those are the pair I’d say.”

Tony Parker

Miller Grove (Lithonia, Ga.), PF


The best Jordans to hoop in are ...

“Definitely the 12’s for sure. They are just really comfortable shoes and they give great ankle support. I love playing in those.”

Rasheed Sulaimon

Strake Jesuit (Houston), SG

Signed to: Duke

The best Jordans to hoop in are ...

“Probably the 11’s. I’ve got every color of that shoe that ever came out. Love them because they’re light and they give great support. It’s a very stylish shoe too. It just raises the bar when you’re rocking the 11’s.”

Rodney Purvis

Upper Room Christian Academy (Raleigh, N.C.), SG

Signed to: NC State

The best Jordans to hoop in are ...

“I’d have to say the Cool Greys. They have the best grip and they just feel good. They’re just swaggy.”

Isaiah Austin

Grace Prep (Arlington, Texas), C

Signed to: Baylor

The best Jordans to hoop in are ...

“I personally prefer the 11’s because they’re light weight and they’ve got good grip. Plus they’ve got a really smooth look.”

Danuel House

Hightower (Sugar Land, Texas), SF

Signed to: Houston

The best Jordans to hoop in are ...

“I’d say the Retro-13’s because it’s got great ankle support and it’s stylish.”

Alex Poythress

Northeast (Clarksville, Tenn.), SF

Signed to: Kentucky

The best Jordans to hoop in are ...

“I like the 10’s because they’re really comfortable and sturdy. Plus they’ve got good ankle support, which is important because I have ankle problems.”

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.

Noel welcomes lofty expectations at UK

April, 11, 2012

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The second Nerlens Noel spun around and showed the letters “UK” meticulously cut into the back of his head live on ESPNU Wednesday night, the lofty expectations were all over cyberspace before he could step out of the studio.

Noel picked the Kentucky over Georgetown and Syracuse.

“I know my Twitter is nuts right now,” said Noel, a senior center at Tilton School (Tilton, N.H.). “That’s just how Kentucky’s fans are, or should I say that’s how our fans are. I love it all.”

Even the inevitable expectation of a back-to-back title run?

On April 2, Kentucky held on to beat Kansas 67-59 and claim its first national title in 14 years. The last team to claim back-to-back titles was Florida in 2006 and 2007.

“I hope that Kentucky fans are expecting us to go back-to-back because that’s what I expect,” said Noel. “It’s championship or bust there, and I’m OK with that.”

Noel knows that most expect him to have an Anthony Davis-like impact as a freshman.

It’s relative.

Davis, a freshman who led Kentucky in the title game with six points, 16 rebounds, five assists, six blocks and three steals, was the top-ranked player in 2011. Noel is the top-ranked player in 2012. They’re both 6-foot-10 centers that have the innate ability to spike shots like volleyballs and make even the most gifted slashers think twice before coming into the lane.

But is it fair to compare a high school senior to the Wooden Player of the Year and the national title game’s Most Outstanding Player?

“He’s got the same abilities,” said Archie Goodwin, a senior shooting guard at Sylvan Hills (Little Rock, Ark.) who will join Noel at Kentucky next season. “I feel like Nerlens could have a year just like Anthony so I’m excited to have him. With Nerlens in the lineup I’m OK with those expectations from fans.”

Alex Poythress concurred.

He said that having a player on the backline protecting the basket changes the complexion of the game “on a lot of different levels.”

“You can’t play the way you normally would with him down there and that’s great for us next year,” said Poythress, a senior swingman at Northeast (Clarksville, Tenn.) who will join Goodwin and Noel at Kentucky next season. “With Nerlens on board now I think my expectations may be even higher than the fans.”

Ditto for Noel.

“We’re competitors so of course we want to win it all,” Noel said. “That’s why I came here; I plan to win a national title so I’m good with our fans expecting it. They should. I know I do.”

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.

Noel added to Jordan Classic roster

March, 14, 2012
Initially, Nerlens Noel had one big reservation about his decision to reclassify from 2013 to 2012.

“I didn’t want to miss the postseason all-star games,” said Noel, a center at Tilton (Tilton, N.H.) who officially became a part of the 2012 class in late February. “I definitely wanted to play in games like the Jordan Classic, McDonald’s All-American game and stuff like that. I felt like I’d done enough to be able to make it.”

He will get his chance to play in at least one of those games.

A month after the Jordan Brand Classic announced its talented roster they added the No. 1 player in the ESPNU 100. The game will commence at Time Warner Cable Arena on April 14 (7 p.m. ET on ESPN).

Notre Dame Prep (Fitchburg, Mass.) center Steven Adams, a Pittsburgh signee who is ranked No. 6 in the ESPNU 100, was also added to the roster.

“It feels great to be able to be a part of a game like the Jordan Classic,” Noel said. “It’s really an honor. I’ve played against these guys all year and all last summer and to be able to play against them again in a game like this will be a lot of fun. I’m happy they added me.”

Noel wasn’t the only one.

Rasheed Sulaimon said that adding Noel, widely regarded as the best shot blocker in years, was a no-brainer.

“He’s the No. 1 player in the class, how can you not let him in?” said Sulaimon, a shooting guard at Strake Jesuit who is signed to Duke. “He’s proved that he is an elite talent and he has worked hard and come a long way. I think it’s great for the game that he’s been added.”

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.

Purvis' Perspective: Jordan Brand bound

February, 6, 2012
Rodney PurvisScott Kurtz/ESPNHSESPNHS Student Blogger: Rodney Purvis
Rodney Purvis | Senior | Shooting Guard | Upper Room Christian Academy (Raleigh, N.C.)

Purvis Blog 1 | Purvis Blog 2 | Purvis Blog 3 | Purvis Blog 4 | Purvis Blog 5 | Purvis Blog 6 | Purvis Blog 7 | ESPNHS - North Carolina

Rodney Purvis is the No. 6 shooting guard in the ESPNU 100. Purvis, a senior at Upper Room Christian Academy (Raleigh, N.C.), ended one of the hottest recruitments of the summer in late September by picking North Carolina State. He's agreed to give ESPNHS exclusive access to his life and chronicle his thoughts in a monthly blog.

What’s up world.

It’s your boy Rodney Purvis again, and as you probably already know by now I’m a Jordan Brand All-American! I’m really excited about making this game because it’s been a dream of mine for a long time now.

My bro John Wall played in this game and my bro Dezmine Wells did, too. When I told them about making the game they both said that they were proud of me and that they wanted to see me do my thing.

I’m honored and blessed to be a part of this game. Michael Jordan is the greatest so I’m looking forward to meeting him.

I was at school when I got the text from one of the Nike guys saying that I was picked for the game. I was so excited for the rest of the day I couldn’t even think straight.

I was shocked. I’ve never been the type of player to think I automatically will be given things because I’ve always had to work for it. I just thanked him and called my mom immediately. Of course she was excited too.

I’m looking forward to seeing all of the guys down there at Jordan. I haven’t really seen most of the guys since the summer in AAU. I know we’ll have a good time together.

My bros Kyle Anderson and Shabazz Muhammad are coming so I already know we’re gonna be buggin’ out the whole time.

I know that a lot of people will come out to watch the game and I’m hoping a lot of N.C. State fans can make the game too. I would love to see guys who have played in this game in the past like John and Kemba Walker come back and watch us. That would be cool.

I don’t really have any expectations about stats or anything like that. I just want to make an impact on the game and leave my mark.

That’s it.

As always, thanks for reading my blog and check back soon for my next entry.

Take care y’all.

Don't forget to follow Rodney Purvis on Twitter: @RPurvis_5