High-SchoolBoys-Basketball: North Carolina

Jahlil Okafor is in the middle of the busiest summer of his life. In addition to criss-crossing the country while playing for one of the nation's elite AAU teams, he's currently in Colorado trying out for the USA Basketball U17 National Team.

With such a stuffed schedule, it's understandable that Okafor is putting his college plans on the back burner for now.

"I'm just listening to everyone," said Okafor. "There's a lot of other things going on right now, so I'm taking my time. I haven't cut down my list yet."

The Class of 2014 center is in high demand. Ranked No. 2 in the ESPN 60, Okafor has the size, the hands and the footwork to be a dominant big man, and his gift for scoring in the post is rare for a player his age. He'll find out on Tuesday whether he makes the final cut for the U17 team, but you have to like his chances.

Last year, the 6-foot-9 Okafor played for the U16 team and averaged 14.6 points and 9.2 rebounds during the 2011 FIBA Americas Championships, shooting an incredible 71 percent from the field to help Team USA win gold.

The leading scorer on that U16 squad was fellow Chicago native Jabari Parker, the No. 1 player in the Class of 2013 and the reigning Gatorade National Player of the Year. Okafor and Parker both play for the same AAU team, and they'll both likely make the final cut for the U17 team.

Okafor says he talks recruiting with Parker, who can relate to being a top uncommitted prospect. Parker has said he will decide on a college before the start of his senior season.

"Jabari gives me advice," said Okafor. "He tells me what to expect, just the things that he's going through now and how it's going to be for me."

Okafor is still in the early stages of his decision process, but there are a few things he's looking for as he zeroes in on prospective colleges.

"I definitely want to play for a school that throws the ball in the post," he said. "I like playing in the post, so a system that plays to my strengths is important. My decision will also involve the players around me. I want good players around me, because it's all about winning."

Okafor already has offers from schools like Duke, North Carolina, Ohio State, Michigan State, Illinois, Arizona and UConn.

Players of the Week, March 7, 2012

March, 7, 2012
Here are this week's high school boys’ basketball Players of the Week. One player is chosen from each region of the country. No player will be chosen more than once during a season.

(After games of Sunday, March 4)


Jared Wilson-Frame, Windsor (Windsor, Conn.)
The 6-foot-3 sophomore wing exploded for a personal-best 45 points as the Warriors defeated Northwest Catholic (West Hartford, Conn.) 74-65 in the semifinals of the Central Connecticut Conference Tournament. Wilson-Frame, a touted junior high football-basketball player before he stepped onto the Windsor campus, converted nine 3-point field goals in the game. An All-CCC honoree, he followed up with 23 points in the 105-72 tournament final win over Manchester (Conn.). The Warriors take a 23-1 record into the state tournament starting this week.


Devonta Pollard, Kemper County (De Kalb, Miss.)
Outside of Nerlens Noel and Shabazz Muhammad, there might not be a better undeclared senior player in the country. Pollard, a 6-foot-7 small forward, led Kemper County past defending champion Booneville (Miss.) 75-65 in last weekend’s Class 3A state championship. Pollard posted a triple-double with 28 points, 10 rebounds and 10 blocked shots. For the season, the McDonald’s All-American averaged 23.8 points per game and led Kemper County to a 28-8 record.


Marcus Paige, Linn-Mar (Marion, Iowa)
The 6-foot-1 senior point guard capped his regular-season with a 49-point effort as the Lions outlasted host Kennedy (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) 83-77 in double overtime. The win sent Linn-Mar to the state tournament for the ninth straight season. Doing his best impersonation of Reggie Miller against the New York Knicks, Paige scored nine points in the final 30 seconds of regulation to rally the Lions from an eight-point deficit to a 61-61 knot that sent the game to extra periods. Paige, who averages 28.4 points a game, is a McDonald's All-American and a North Carolina recruit.


Zach Bush, Eisenhower (Goddard, Kan.)
This 6-foot-6 senior point guard is a player to watch heading into this week’s Class 5A state tournament. Bush wrapped up last week with an impressive outing of 34 points, 10 rebounds, six steals and four assists in a 85-34 romp past South (Salina, Kan.). In a state dominated individually by the likes of Perry Ellis of Wichita Heights, Semi Ojeleye of Ottawa and Conner Frankamp of Wichita North, solid players like Bush can be missed. For the season, he is averaging 22.7 points per game with 9.7 rebounds and 3.5 assists. Bush played his first three seasons at crosstown rival Goddard and has grown eight inches since he freshman year, which accounts for him still being a guard.


Marquis Davis, Rainier Beach (Seattle)
The 5-foot-9 junior guard was the MVP of the Class 3A state championship game with 30 points to lead the Vikings past Seattle Prep 61-58. Davis made four 3-pointers in the first half to give Rainier Beach the early edge. He needed to step up because Kansas-bound guard Anrio Adams of the Vikings was hampered with fouls. With the win, Rainier Beach finishes 27-3, clinches its sixth state title and assures that no other team in Washington will be higher in the ESPNHS West Region rankings. Davis also has competed for Rainier Beach’s track team as a sprinter and long jumper. He had a top 100-meter time of 11.08 seconds as a sophomore.

Ballers dish on moves they love the most

February, 14, 2012
Rodney Purvis didn’t hesitate at all when asked what he loved most about Valentine’s Day.

“It’s my birthday,” said Purvis, a senior shooting guard at Upper Room Christian Academy. “So those two combined are always fun.”

It wasn’t as easy for Purvis when he had to name what basketball move he loved the most.

“That’s tough,” Purvis said.

Makes sense with the wide array of dazzling juke moves in his offensive arsenal.

Nerlens Noel
Lori Young/ESPNHSNerlens Noel said his under-the-legs crossover move allows him to dunk on defenders easier.
Here’s what Purvis and other elite players settled on as the one move they love to burn the defense with.

Kris Jenkins
Gonzaga College (Washington, D.C.), 2013, PF
College: Undecided
The move that I love the most is…
“The one-dribble pull-up. I love that move because the shot always feels so good when it leaves my hands after I do that. That is the move that typically works for me.”

L.J. Rose
Westbury Christian (Houston), 2012, PG
College: Baylor
The move that I love the most is…
“Either the spin move or the hesitation move because it keeps the defender on his heels and it keeps him guessing.”

Rasheed Sulaimon
Strake Jesuit (Houston), 2012, SG
College: Duke
The move that I love the most is…
“The hesitation pull-up jump shot. I picked it up from watching Tracy McGrady. I love this move because, basically, it’s never failed me. You can create space between you and your defender or rise over them and shoot. Another reason is because it’s got so many counters so you really can’t guard it. But I’ll stop talking now because I can’t be giving out all my counters.”

Rodney Purvis
Upper Room Christian Academy (Raleigh, N.C.), 2012, SG
College: N.C. State
The move that I love the most is…
“The basic right to left crossover because it allows me to get enough space to pull-up. I may have to use that one on Valentine’s Day.”

Nerlens Noel
Tilton School (Tilton, N.H.), 2012, C
College: Undecided
The move that I love the most is…
“My under-the-legs crossover because it creates a lot of space to get to the rim so I can put someone in a body bag with a dunk.”

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

Purvis' Perspective: All-Star aspirations

January, 23, 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 | ESPNHS - North Carolina

Rodney Purvis is the No. 5 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 and I’m back with my latest blog entry.

Right now we’re well in to our season and things are going great because we’re winning. We’re in a good spot right now. Everyone’s playing together as a team and we’re really starting to click.

We had one of the biggest wins in our history recently against Ravenscroft here in Raleigh. I was really proud of the way that we played. We were really well prepared for that game because we watched a lot of film on them coming into the game and we really executed our game plan perfectly.

I had 25 in the game and I’m averaging 27 points, six rebounds and five assists this year. I feel like I’m playing well, but I’m never satisfied. I want to raise my level of play from this point on out.

I know the McDonald’s Nominees list came out recently and I just feel so honored to even be nominated. That’s a historic game that every high school player wants to be a part of so I’d feel really honored if I’m picked to play in that game.

That goes for the Jordan Brand Classic too. That’s right here in my state and it’s grown so much over the last few years. It’s a game that John (Wall) was a part of and I told him that I want to have the chance to play in every game that he was a part of. It would be an honor to play in a game that’s endorsed by the greatest player to ever play the game.

Of course I’ve been watching my boys at N.C. State play this season a lot and I feel like they’re playing great. I think they’ve all bought in to what Coach (Mark) Gottfried is trying to do. The one thing that I notice when I go to games and when I watch is that the chemistry is at a high level. All the guys love playing together and that’s helped out a lot.

Another big reason that we’re playing better is that Lorenzo Brown has really transitioned to the point guard position well and he’s got the team rolling. He just does whatever we need him to do in order to get the win.

That’s the kind of attitude you need from your point guard.

I’m excited about where we can finish this year in the ACC. I think that we can definitely finish in the top three and I’m predicting that this is definitely the year that we get to the NCAA Tournament.

I truly think that we’ve got a chance to win the conference this year, and you just never know what happens when you get to the NCAA Tournament. I wouldn’t overlook my boys though, I’ll tell you that.

Of course we’re still trying to add to our class for next year and at the top of that list is Amile Jefferson. I think we’re close with him and I know that a lot of good schools are trying to get him so we’ll have to wait and see.

I don’t really talk to him regularly. I’m the guy who gives recruits their space to make their own decision. I hope he comes to join the Pack though.

Of course by now you know that I made it to the ESPNHS Fans’ Choice Final Four and I’m going head-up with Nerlens Noel.

I need you guys to click here and vote for me as many times as you can.

I love that my other two bros Julius Randle and Shabazz Muhammad are in the other bracket. It’s hard to decide who I’m throwing my support behind. I know that Julius will definitely be in the running again next year though.

I kind of want to go against Shabazz anyway. Plus we’re both seniors and it would be cool to see two seniors go head-to-head to see who wins it all in their last year.

If it comes down to me and Shabazz, I don’t know who wins that one. We’ll just have to see.

But again go vote for me here.

Of course I try to catch my NBA games when I can. I love watching my bro John, of course, Chris Paul, Mo Williams and Derrick Rose.

I think the Miami Heat have the best chance to be the champs in the end though.

Well, that’s all I’ve got for now everyone. Thanks, as always, for reading my blog and be sure to check back soon for my next entry.

Take care.

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

Players dish on hoops resolutions for 2012

January, 2, 2012
RALEIGH, N.C. -- Nik Stauskas is completely aware that New Year’s resolutions are practically synonymous with famous last words.

Still, he thinks it’s important to have aspirations, especially on the court.

“It’s important to have something to reach for in basketball,” said Stauskas, a senior shooting guard at St. Mark’s (Southborough, Mass.). “You need those goals for sure.”

Nik Stauskas
Courtesy of Brendan NolanNik Stauskas said New Year's resolutions are important on the hardwood.
We caught up with players at the High School OT Holiday Invitational and had them dish on their basketball-related New Year’s resolutions.

Rasheed Sulaimon
Strake Jesuit (Houston), 2012, SG
College: Duke
New Year’s resolution: “Get bigger, stronger and quicker so I can absorb contact when I’m driving into the lane and finish on a more consistent basis.”

Nik Stauskas
St. Mark’s (Southborough, Mass.), 2012, SG
College: Michigan
New Year’s resolution: “Wake up at 6 a.m. four days a week and get in the gym and work on my floaters and my midrange game. That’s something that I really want to improve on before I get to Michigan. I just want to stay consistent and stay motivated, and I think this will help me.”

Rodney Purvis
Upper Room Christian Academy (Raleigh, N.C.), 2012, SG
College: North Carolina State
New Year’s resolution: “Get more consistent with my jump shot and my handles. Those are the things that I’m constantly trying to improve so with 2012 here I’m determined to master both of those areas.”

Andrew White
Miller School (Charlottesville, Va.), 2012, SG
College: Kansas
New Year’s resolution: “Work on my scoring off the dribble. That would be so huge for me because I’m a shooter. Also to work on my foot speed and my dribbling, those are the main things I’m making my New Year’s resolutions.”

Kaleb Tarczewski
St. Mark’s (Southborough, Mass.), 2012, C
College: Arizona
New Year’s resolution: “Get my team to continue to jell together so that we can accomplish our goals. We want to win the states and we’ve come up short in the past and this is the year that I want it to all come together so my main resolution is to do everything that I can to continue to help this team grow.”

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.

Ravenscroft claims the High School OT title

December, 31, 2011
RALEIGH, N.C. – Madison Jones had the foresight to have the hindsight.

He knew that when he and his Ravenscroft (Raleigh, N.C.) teammates’ highly anticipated matchup against Wesleyan Christian (High Point, N.C.) ended in a comfortable eight-point win on Nov. 18, Wesleyan would have extra motivation the second time around, especially with the High School OT Holiday Invitational title on the line.

“It’s something that we talked about coming in,” Jones said. “We didn't want to look back and say we should've been more prepared. We knew that they would be ready to get us back, so we knew that we’d have to continue to play our game but also match their intensity.”

They did.

Ravenscroft used a second-half swarm of defensive pressure to knock off Wesleyan Christian 53-44 Friday at Broughton High School in Raleigh, N.C.

It was the Ravens’ second consecutive High School OT title.

Marcus Bryan led Ravenscroft with 18 points and nine rebounds while Anton Gill and Jones chipped in with 14 and 12.

Jaquel Richmond led Wesleyan with 23 points.

“We just came out and played our game,” said Gill, a Louisville commit who was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player. “We really locked up defensively in the second half. That was the biggest difference from the first half. Their guards were knocking down shots early, but we made the adjustment.”

Early on it was the Trojans that adjusted.

After falling down 9-0, Wesleyan used the hot hand of Richmond to put together a 24-14 run and claim a 24-23 lead at the half.

Richmond scored 15 points and the Trojans drained 50 percent of their 3-pointers during the run.

“They have three great perimeter players and they were hitting shots with hands in their faces,” said Ravenscroft coach Kevin Billerman. “We were playing really well defensively, and I knew that if we just stayed aggressive on the defensive end, good things would happen.”

Billerman was right.

The Trojans shot just 28 percent in the third quarter and fell behind by as many as 10 points, a deficit they couldn’t find the firepower to recover from.

With the win the Ravens became just the third team in the tournament’s 40-year history to repeat as champs.

“Just to be a part of history is great,” Jones said. “We did it with the same team and that made it even more special.”

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.

Xavier's Dezmine Wells on lessons learned

December, 30, 2011
Xavier guard Dezmine Wells has typically operated under the adage that experience is the best teacher, but on Dec. 10, Wells learned, more than ever, that it doesn’t have to be.

Wells was one of four Musketeers who were suspended for their roles in a brawl with Cincinnati that ended the Bearcats' blowout loss. Cincinnati also suspended four players.

Al Behrman / APDezmine Wells said it's important to recognize the difference between intensity and anger.
“I was really upset with myself because I got out of character,” said Wells, who will return from a four-game suspension Saturday when the Musketeers host Gonzaga at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN2. “I definitely wish it never happened. I hated that we acted like that.”

After the incident, one of Wells’ first calls was to Kendrick Williams, who coached Wells in AAU and at Word of God (Raleigh, N.C.).

Williams, now the coach at Christian Faith Center Academy (Creedmoor, N.C.), was the mentor who helped Wells kick his “bad attitude” when he was 11 by implementing what Williams now calls the “Dez Rule.”

“I’ll never forget it,” Wells said. “I was young and I had a temper at practice and I was mouthing off and I didn’t want to run sprints at the end, so Coach K had one of my teammates buy me a Gatorade and another teammate put a chair at midcourt, and I watched the team run for hours. That was the day I changed my attitude for the better.”

Williams, who still uses the “Dez Rule” today, said he wanted to show Wells how his actions can ultimately affect his teammates, a lesson that was reinforced after the Dec. 10 melee. Xavier has gone 1-3 over its past four games.

“He’s a great young man,” Williams said of Wells. “We talked for an hour and a half after the Cincinnati game, and I really got on him. I don’t let him get away with anything. He understood and admitted where he was wrong in the end, and he genuinely learned a lesson. That’s what it’s all about.”

Added Wells: “It hurt me because I knew Coach K, who’s like my father figure, was disappointed, plus I knew I’d hurt my mom and family. I was disappointed in myself too, but I learned a lot. I am planning to talk to some kids at the Boys & Girls Club about the importance of self-control. I know some good can come from the whole thing.”

Wells came up with five things to remember during the inevitable heated situations on the court.

Cooler heads prevail.
“You’ve all heard this one before, but it’s so true. You’ve got to keep your cool in every situation, not just on the court but in life. You’re accountable for everything that you do.

"No matter what happens out there you’ve got to keep your cool and good things will happen.”

Laugh it off.
“In every game, no matter who you’re playing, there will be a time when someone says something slick to you or bumps you a little too hard, and the best thing you can do when that happens is to laugh it off.

"Nothing good can come from you retaliating, and any player will tell you that the retaliator is the one who usually gets caught. Just laugh it off and keep it moving.”

It’s not worth it.
“I’ve been sitting out for four games, and that alone makes it not worth it. There’s always a consequence for your actions and in hindsight it’s never worth it.

"You always regret it when you mess up, so you’ve got to use your head.”

Don’t mistake intensity for anger.
“This is my favorite one. A lot of guys think that being intense is all about talking smack and being all up in the opposing team’s face, but it’s not. It’s more about playing hard and communicating with your teammates and respecting the game.

"You’ve got to remember that it’s just intensity when things get testy on the court. You aren’t really mad at the other guy; you’re both just being intense. It’s something you should actually respect, not get mad at. Got to learn to identify the different emotions.”

Walk away.
“There are times when a guy will take it too far, whether he steps to you or pushes you or whatever, and you have a decision to make. Always choose to turn around and walk away. Take it from me.

"I would absolutely handle my situation different if I could do it over. Win or lose, you walk away and stay respectable. It sounds cliché but it’s true, the bigger man always walks away.”

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, Gill set on protecting home court

December, 28, 2011
Rodney PurvisCourtesy of NBPARodney Purvis and Upper Room Christian Academy (Raleigh, N.C.) will take advantage of their hometown advantage at the High School OT Holiday Invitational this week.

RALEIGH, N.C. -- In his four years at Upper Room Christian Academy (Raleigh, N.C.), Rodney Purvis has lost just 10 home games.

That’s pretty remarkable by most standards, but for Purvis it’s 10 too many.

“I’m such a competitor and I hate, I mean haaate to lose,” said Purvis, who is ranked No. 16 in the ESPNU 100. “But it’s different when you lose at home. It’s like you almost feel violated. Like someone came in and stole something that was yours. I can’t have that.”

It’s the mindset Purvis hopes propels he and the Eagles to the High School OT Holiday Invitational title this week at Broughton High School (Raleigh, N.C.).

Upper Room will face Body of Christ Academy (Raleigh, N.C.) in the first round on Dec. 28 at 5:40 p.m. ET. The championship will commence Dec. 30 at 9 p.m. ET.

“The tournament is in Raleigh and that’s my city,” said Purvis, a North Carolina State signee. “There are teams from around the state and the country that are playing in this tournament, but we feel like, being from here, it’s a home game for us so same rules apply. We’ve got to protect our home court.”

Ravenscroft (Raleigh, N.C.) guard Anton Gill can relate.

Last year he led the Ravens to the High School OT title with a 57-52 win over Middle Creek (Apex, N.C.). The Ravens knocked off Greenfield (Wilson, N.C.), 68-54, in their opener and will play the winner of St. Mark's (Southborough, Mass.) and United Faith (Charlotte, N.C.) on Dec. 29 at 5:40 p.m. ET.

“It’s definitely more motivation to win when you’re playing at home,” said Gill, a junior who recently committed to Louisville. “We definitely treat this tournament just like it’s our home gym, but I prepare for games the same way. It’s all about the win, no matter the situation because you tend to remember losses a lot longer.”

Purvis agreed.

He recalled watching his “big brothers” from Word of God Academy (Raleigh, N.C.) John Wall (Washington Wizards) and Dezmine Wells (Xavier) fall to Christ School (Arden, N.C.) in the High School OT title game in 2008.

“I just remember John and Dez being so mad about losing that game,” Purvis said. “That really stuck with them because not only did they lose, they lost in their own city to an out of town school. I don’t want to feel that.”

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

Five to watch at the HS OT Holiday Invitational

December, 27, 2011
As much as Rasheed Sulaimon loved ripping open gifts and scarfing down hefty portions of Christmas dinner, he knows that taking home the High School OT Holiday Invitational title would trump it all.

“I’m all about winning,” Sulaimon said. “There’s nothing better than that.”

It won’t be easy.

Here are the top five players who will be in attendance at the basketball tournament in Raleigh, N.C. from Dec. 27-30.

Anton Gill, Ravenscroft (Raleigh, N.C.), 2013, SG
Committed to: Louisville
Gill, who is ranked No. 48 in the ESPNU 60, is a talented combo guard with an exceptional mid-range game and remarkable athleticism to get to the basket and finish with authority almost at will.

Rodney Purvis, Upper Room Christian Academy (Raleigh, N.C.), 2012, SG
Signed to: North Carolina State
Purvis, who is ranked No. 16 in the ESPNU 100, is one of the best guards in the country and attacks the rim exceptionally well. When he makes up his mind to get into the lane there's little the defense can do to stop him.

Kaleb Tarczewski, St. Mark’s (Southborough, Mass.), 2012, C
Signed to: Arizona
Tarczewski has some of the best hands of any big man in the country and finishes in the lane with authority. Tarczewski, who is ranked No. 6 in the ESPNU 100, runs the floor well and erases shots in the lane.

Theo Pinson, Wesleyan Christian (High Point, N.C.), 2014, SF
Pinson, who is ranked No. 2 in the ESPNU 25, dominates with his versatility. Pinson knocks down the trey and gets in to the lane and finishes with authority.

Rasheed Sulaimon, Strake Jesuit (Houston), 2012, SG
Signed to: Duke
Sulaimon, who is ranked No. 12 in the ESPNU 100, is a defender’s worst nightmare because he can break down his defender with his ball handling ability or knock down deep 3-pointers efficiently. It’s virtually impossible to stop him when he gets rolling.

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

Britt's college choice will be all business

November, 29, 2011
Nate Britt II is unabashed about the fact that he grew up hoping that North Carolina would cut down the nets every year and stand center stage looking up at the JumboTron while NCAA Tournament highlights played using “One Shining Moment” as a soundtrack.

Nate Britt
Kelly Kline/ESPNHSNate Britt grew up an avid North Carolina fan.

“Definitely rooted for the Tar Heels,” said Britt, a junior point guard at Gonzaga College (Washington, D.C.).

Britt got it honest; his father Nate Sr. was a big Tar Heel fan growing up watching Dean Smith, Phil Ford and Walter Davis.

“That was my team for sure,” Nate Sr. said. “We love the Tar Heels.”

Still, tonight at 8 p.m. when Britt makes his college decision at Gonzaga Madness, a season kickoff event at the school, his rooting interests won’t factor in at all.

Britt, who is ranked No. 15 in the ESPNU60, will pick between North Carolina, Maryland, Georgetown, Arizona, Villanova and Virginia.

“The fact that I grew up a North Carolina fan won’t play a part in my decision,” Britt said. “It’s all about what’s best for me in the long run. It’s more of a business decision.”

That’s a mindset that Nate Sr. instilled into his son when the recruitment process began.

“It’s not about the dream of playing for North Carolina anymore,” Nate Sr. said. “You’ve really got to separate the two. You’ve got to put the whole thing into perspective and that can be hard for kids at times, but it’s something that we’ve talked about a lot.”

Perhaps that’s why Britt said “it’s not at all hard” to separate being a fan and being a recruit. Or maybe it’s because Britt added that he “was never an extreme fan, just a fan.”

Whatever the reason, Britt is focused on going into the best situation possible and maintains that, at this point, every school is on the same level.

“I’ll make the right decision for me,” Britt said. “Not because I like a school or because a school is close to home. It's about the big picture, not about being a fan."

But sometimes it works out that the college with the best situation just happens to be the dream school. That was certainly the case for the Tar Heels most recent commit Oxford Webb (Oxford, N.C.) forward Isaiah Hicks, a junior forward who is ranked No. 14 in the ESPNU60.

Like Britt, Hicks grew up a North Carolina fan and felt like the Tar Heels made the most "business" sense too.

Hicks committed less than two hours after Roy Williams offered him a scholarship.

"I'm not ruling out anything," Britt said. "We'll see what happens. At the end of the day, I’m blessed to be in this position. I’ve got all of these great schools that want me to come and play for them.”

Now all he has to do is pick one.

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 dish on skills they're most thankful for

November, 23, 2011
Before diets give way to hefty portions of pumpkin pie, gravy drenched turkey, mouthwatering mac and cheese and succulent candied yams we figured we’d have a handful of elite players reflect on what basketball skill they’re most thankful to have in their repertoire.

Here’s what they came up with.
Jabari Parker
Scott Kurtz/ESPNHSJabari Parker said Simeon would have to keep Tony Parker in check to have the best chance to win.
Jabari Parker, Simeon (Chicago), SF, 2013
The hoops skill I’m most thankful for is…
“My versatility. That helps me to be able to play all of the different positions on the floor. It’s definitely the skill I’m most thankful for.”

Alex Poythress, Northeast (Clarksville, Tenn.), F, 2012
Signed to: Kentucky
The hoops skill I’m most thankful for is…
“My height. I know that’s not really a skill, but it’s such a blessing because most people aren’t 6-foot-8. It’s helped me a lot in this game. It makes me more versatile, it forces teams to put bigger slower people on me and it allows me to shoot over smaller players. I’m very thankful for my height.”

Julius Randle, Prestonwood Christian (Plano, Texas), F, 2013
The hoops skill I’m most thankful for is…
“My ball handling ability. Most guys my height (6-foot-10) can’t really handle the ball too well, but it’s just always come really natural to me. I’m blessed to have that ability.”

Tony Parker, Miller Grove (Lithonia, Ga.), F, 2012
The hoops skill I’m most thankful for is…
“My basketball IQ. I feel like it’s pretty high and it’s one of the best skills to have because, think about it, no one can take that away from you. They can block your shot, overpower you in the paint or be faster than you, but as long as you have a high IQ you can have an impact on the game. I’m most thankful that I’ve got that.”

Rodney Purvis, Upper Room Christian Academy (Raleigh, N.C.), G, 2012
Signed to: North Carolina State
The hoops skill I’m most thankful for is…
“My dribbling ability. That allows me to create for myself and my teammates so that's definitely the skill that I'm most thankful to have.”

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: Signed, sealed, delivered

November, 10, 2011
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 | ESPNHS - North Carolina

Rodney Purvis is the No. 5 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 and I’m happy to say that I’m I officially part of the Wolfpack family! I’m really excited about that. Obviously, this is the early signing period for us and it’s a great feeling to put all of the recruiting stuff behind me for good.

It’s a goal that I’ve accomplished so that’s definitely something that I’m proud of.

Since I committed to North Carolina State things have been so crazy. The whole city of Raleigh, N.C. has really gotten behind me and supported me even more than they had been before. And I had a lot of support anyway.

I’m definitely seeing a lot more N.C. State paraphernalia on cars now, so that’s really cool. I’ve gotten even closer with the coaches and players that are there now and the fans too.

The fans are pretty crazy, I love them. They’ve got a group of fans that they call the “Purv-erts.”

I went to the scrimmage game the other night and a guy came up to me and pointed to a section in the arena and said that was where the Purv-erts are gonna sit. It was pretty funny.

The fans will have a lot to cheer about because we’re bringing in a great class. ESPN has our class ranked No. 2 right now with me, Tyler Lewis and T.J. Warren. I hope that we can get Amile Jefferson too. I’ve been working pretty hard on him. He was at N.C. State last weekend and I feel like he had a good time so we’ll see.

We know that the expectations will be really high for us when we come in and we’re OK with that. We’re all really close so that will help with our chemistry when we get here. I think we’ll be ready to step right in and make a difference.

Other than that, our season kicked off and we’re looking pretty good. We’re still young, but we can’t keep saying that. We’ve got to step up and finish strong this year, and I think we’re capable of doing just that.

Well, that's all I've got for now everyone. Check back soon for my next blog entry.

Until next time.

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

Players give top 5 reasons to sign early

November, 9, 2011
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.”

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
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