High-SchoolBoys-Basketball: Upper Room Christian Academy

Toasting the Class of 2012

May, 18, 2012
5/18/12
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Noel NerlensKelly KlineWe think UK recruit Nerlens Noel is headed toward a bright future both on and off the court.
With graduation right around the corner, it’s almost time to bid adieu to the class of 2012. Before the veteran ballers flip that tassel, we’re going to bless them with some last-second love and immortalize them in the form of senior superlatives. We’ll gaze into our crystal ball to make a few predictions as well as reflect on the myriad achievements of this talented crew.

These are our picks, but feel free to chime in with your selections on Twitter @espnhs.

Most important commitment
Kyle Anderson, St. Anthony (Jersey City, N.J.)
Sure, Anderson’s commitment to UCLA might have been overshadowed by the subsequent pledges of Shabazz Muhammad and Tony Parker. But who knows if the Bruins would’ve landed those two prized recruits had it not been for Anderson -- the ultimate team-first guy and winner -- jumping on board first. Anderson's versatility will be valuable as the heralded class looks to restore UCLA's lore after a tumultuous last few years.
Runner-up: Baylor lands Isaiah Austin, Grace Prep (Arlington, Texas)

Most likely to succeed in the NBA
Shabazz Muhammad, Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas)
We’re not the only ones envisioning Muhammad going toe-to-toe with Bron Bron and the rest of the league's heavyweights. The consensus among pro scouts at the Nike Hoop Summit was that ‘Bazz was the most pro-ready domestic prospect in the class. His Kobe-like demeanor and ability to get buckets in a variety of ways should bode well for whatever squad scoops him up in the Association.
Runner-up: Anthony Bennett, Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.)

Most likely to land an acting role
Nerlens Noel, Tilton (Tilton, N.H.)
The high top fade alone should be enough to land this menacing shot blocker in the reboot of “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” or if they ever recast Kid or Play for the next “House Party.” Combine his tight 'do with his affable personality and his ability to take over defensively on the hardwood, and we could be looking at a star both on and off the court.
Runner-up: Justin Anderson, Montrose Christian (Rockville, Md.)

Read More »

Purvis' Perspective: The perfect ending

April, 19, 2012
4/19/12
10:38
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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. 5 shooting guard in the ESPNU 100. A senior at Upper Room Christian Academy (Raleigh, N.C.), Purvis 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.

Hey what’s going on everybody, it’s your boy Rodney Purvis back with another blog. I know it’s been a long time since my last blog but things have been pretty busy lately.

I just got back from the Jordan Brand Classic last weekend and that was a great time just getting the chance to hang out with all my bros like Kyle Anderson and Shabazz Muhammad. I’ve known them for a long time now and we all knew that this would be the last time we’d all be together for a while so we just bugged out and had a good time all week.

We got a chance to tour the ESPNU studio in Charlotte and that was real cool too. I met Jimmy Dykes and Dino Gaudio and both of them are really knowledgeable and gave us some great advice.

Of course we got a chance to see Shabazz and Nerlens (Noel) commit. That was my first time being in a studio and watching someone commit so that was different. I know both of them are gonna do big things at UCLA and Kentucky.

It was a blessing to be able to win co-MVP of the (Jordan Brand Classic). That’s what I wanted coming in to the game because my mom bought so many tickets and my family had a big section so I wanted to give them a good show.

It was the perfect way to end my high school career, I just wish we could’ve won the game!

But I had a great time down there in Charlotte all week.

Of course by now everyone knows that my bro C.J. Leslie is gonna be back with the Pack next year. That’s obviously big for us and I’m just glad because we’re really close. I’ve known him forever.

We made it pretty far this season, but I know that we’ll be able to go even further next season. Coach (Mark) Gottfried didn’t recruit any of those players on that team last year and to get them all to buy in to what he was doing was really impressive to me. I’ve already bought in and I know everyone else feels the same way too.

The sky is the limit for us.

I’m still hoping we can get another guy or two. I’m talking to Amile Jefferson and even Tony Parker, even though we’re late in the game.

You never know what those guys are gonna do though. I don’t crowd them. I give them their space and let them make their own decision.

But I always tell them that I’ll support wherever they go. I do feel pretty strongly about our chances with Amile though.

I also want to say something to younger group that’s coming up behind me: Don’t worry about rankings. Don’t pay attention to them at all. Good or bad. That won’t make or break you. That’s just someone’s opinion and it honestly doesn’t even matter. College coaches aren’t worried about that stuff. They just want good players. So work on your game and don’t worry about stuff like that.

Now that the season’s over I’m just trying to develop stronger discipline headed into college. I’m focusing on my books and my training. I get up at 5 a.m. every day and train. I want to be as prepared as possible for my first year.

OK guys I’m gonna head out now, but I appreciate you guys checking out my blog.

Take care.

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

Ballers dish on moves they love the most

February, 14, 2012
2/14/12
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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
2/06/12
11:15
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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

Players give midseason grades

January, 30, 2012
1/30/12
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Rodney Purvis has never been one to rest on his laurels so it’s no wonder that when asked what midseason grade he’d give himself, Purvis didn’t hesitate to start with what he wanted to improve on.

“As a player you can’t think that you’re doing everything right,” Purvis said. “You should always be looking to improve. That’s the only way you’ll reach your goals, and mine are high.”

L.J. Rose
Steve Blake/CKY SportsL.J. Rose is happy with where he's at, but wants to continue to improve.
Purvis isn’t alone there.

We asked a handful of players to grade their performances at the midpoint of the high school season. From the top players in the country to players on the come-up, the consensus was that there’s room for improvement.

Rodney Purvis, Upper Room Christian Academy (Raleigh, N.C.), SG, 2012
Signed to: North Carolina State
My midseason grade is…
“Definitely a B+ because there is so much more that I want to improve on. Things like defense, rebounding, talking more and getting a more consistent motor.”

L.J. Rose, Westbury Christian (Houston), PG, 2012
Signed to: Baylor
My midseason grade is…
“Got to say a B because you can always get better. But I feel like I’ve done a great job of being more of a vocal leader on the court and also been playing pretty well. We are now 20-2 and we are hoping to keep the losses at two and finish out March with a state title.”

Rasheed Sulaimon, Strake Jesuit (Houston), SG, 2012
Signed to: Duke
My midseason grade is…
“B+ because I feel like I’ve done a really good job of leading my team to a 19-3 record and played well offensively and defensively. I still need to get better, get my teammates better and just get better as a whole.”

Shabazz Muhammad, Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas), SF, 2012
Uncommitted
My midseason grade is…
“B+ because I feel like I’ve done a good job of leading my team and contributing on the offensive and defensive ends. I do whatever it takes to help my team win.”

Xavier Rathan-Mayes, Huntington Prep (Huntington, W.Va.), SG, 2013
Uncommitted
My midseason grade is…
“A- and the reason for that is I've been playing real well this season putting up big numbers, getting other guys involved and playing good defense. I always take the challenge of guarding the best player on the other team.”

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: All-Star aspirations

January, 23, 2012
1/23/12
7:00
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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
1/02/12
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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.

Purvis, Gill set on protecting home court

December, 28, 2011
12/28/11
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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
12/27/11
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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
Uncommitted
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

Hoopers dish on skills they're most thankful for

November, 23, 2011
11/23/11
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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
Uncommitted
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
Uncommitted
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
Uncommitted
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

Rodney Purvis, Upper Room Christian (Raleigh, N.C.)
No. 16 in the ESPNU 100
@rpurvis_5
Wolfpack Nation is thrilled to have Purvis, a relentless scorer who averaged more than 25 points per game last year, heading to NC State next year. Purvis’ strength and knack for getting to the cup makes him one of the nation’s most exhilarating talents to watch and one of the opposition’s toughest players to defend. If you need further evidence the kid can ball, just ask fellow Carolinian Chris Paul, who Purvis claims to have beaten one-on-one this summer.

Justin Anderson, Montrose Christian (Rockville, Md.)
No. 61 in the ESPNU 100
@JDotAnderson23
Anderson’s ranking may lead you to believe he’s a dark horse, but his style of play and affable personality certainly endear him to fans. Always quick to rep the DMV (D.C.-Maryland-Virginia area), the Virginia-bound forward regularly throws down SportsCenter-worthy dunks and follows it up with a celebration worthy of old-school Chad Ochocinco. Anderson tallied 14 points and 7.2 rebounds to lead Montrose to last year’s ESPNHS National High School Invitational crown.


Discuss this matchup on Twitter #espnhsfans.

Meet the other candidates on the player intro page.

Fans choiceESPNHSCongrats to Rodney Purvis for making it to the Final Four. The next round of voting begins on Jan. 11.


Purvis' Perspective: Signed, sealed, delivered

November, 10, 2011
11/10/11
7:41
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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
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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
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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

Hoopers play dress up for Halloween

October, 30, 2011
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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

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