High-SchoolBoys-Basketball: Westbury Christian

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.

Players give midseason grades

January, 30, 2012
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
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
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.

Sulaimon feeling the Duke hate early

December, 29, 2011
RALEIGH, N.C. -- Rasheed Sulaimon leans back on the padded chair inside the lobby of his swanky hotel on the eve of his High School OT Holiday Invitational debut in Raleigh, N.C.

He's stylishly underdressed in a Strake Jesuit College Prep (Houston) warm-up pulled over a black Duke shirt with blue letters. Finally, it's chill mode after a long day that included a 2:30 a.m. arrival, a brief meeting with the Duke players and coaches and a practice at Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium with his Strake teammates.

Rasheed Sulaimon
Courtesy of Andrew ShurtleffRasheed Sulaimon said Duke will sweep UNC this season.
Just as he begins to express mild concern with the fact that he’s feeling a bit under the weather, a hotel employee, who has been staring at Sulaimon for the last 10 minutes, walks by and unnecessarily begins to fiddle around with the blinds just in front of his chair.

Minutes later, the employee, a middle-aged woman with short hair and a big, puffy coat, walks by again. This time she can’t resist.

“You the guy that’s going to Duke?” she asked matter-of-factly.

Sulaimon smiled and replied, “Yes ma'am, that’s me.”

“Oh,” she said with a grin. “Well, you’ve got really pretty eyes.”

For a split second, Sulaimon seems slightly uncomfortable. He shifts to the side in his chair and blushes, but just as he tries to get “thank you” out, she interrupted with, “But just so you know; I. Hate. Duke.”

Such is the life of a high school player who’s signed on to join college basketball’s Evil Empire.

“I get stuff like that all the time,” said Sulaimon, a senior shooting guard who committed to Duke on Feb. 10 and signed during the NCAA’s early signing period in November. “It’s crazy how much people really just hate on Duke. I’ve been dealing with the hate ever since I committed.”

That’s been a major adjustment for Sulaimon who has one of the most likable personalities of any high school player in the country, regardless of class.

“Oh yeah, everybody loves Sheed,” said Sulaimon's teammate John Gillon, who is signed to Arkansas-Little Rock. “He's just so positive all the time and he's really easygoing. He's the kind of guy that people flock to. Everybody loves him.”

Well, at least they used to.

Sulaimon and the Crusaders traveled to Taylor (Houston) the day after he gave Duke its first commitment from the class of 2012 and immediately Sulaimon noticed a drastic change in how he was received.

“The gym was packed and everyone had all of these signs made about how Duke sucked and how I sucked,” recalled Sulaimon, who is ranked No. 12 in the ESPNU 100. “They were saying Duke was gonna revoke my scholarship, UNC was better, I’d never get off the bench there, all this crazy stuff. Since that day it hasn’t cooled off at all. Whenever it happens I have to tell myself to block it out and then I’m usually fine. I still haven’t gotten used to it.”

Even in the loss to Garner in the quarterfinals, where Sulaimon was hunched over, gasping for breath and running up the court dizzy all night, he received more than six emails on Facebook telling him how terrible he played and how Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, who attended the game, was going to take his scholarship back.

Duke point guard Quinn Cook said that it doesn’t get any easier as the year progresses and certainly not when you put on the Blue Devil jersey.

“I had to deal with it too. We all have,” said Cook, who also attended the quarterfinal loss along with teammates Austin Rivers and Alex Murphy. “Right when I committed I had fans just killing me with comments and players talking crazy and trying to go at me on the court. I just used it as motivation because every game someone was coming at my head. I wasn’t gonna let anyone just get the best of me. It really helped.”

Sulaimon has used the same motivation to average 28 points and five assists a game this season. And ironically, despite all of the tongue lashings and verbal assaults he gets due to his association with Duke, Sulaimon maintains that opposing fans’ jabs don’t equal true hate.

“The same people that are heckling me throughout the game are the ones dapping me up and saying they respect me after the game,” he said. “A lot of times the haters are the biggest admirers.”

Suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, the middle-aged woman with the short hair and a big, puffy coat was back. This time she’s brought her daughter over to meet Sulaimon.

“My little girl wanted to know if you’d sign her doll,” she said while sliding it in front of him.

Without hesitation, Sulaimon smiles, grabs the doll and signs away.

The woman’s daughter smiles and skips away looking at Sulaimon’s name in purple ink on her worn doll. The woman thanks him, turns to walk away and immediately spins back around.

“Look I'm a North Carolina fan, so that’s why I said that earlier,” she explained. “But you seem really nice. I’ll tell you what; I’ll root for you individually when you get to Duke. Not the team. That’s the best I can do.”

Sulaimon laughs and nods.

Biggest admirers indeed.

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

Players 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

No. 21 soph Lattin enrolls in Spanish academy

November, 8, 2011
ESPNHS - Texas

After a strong summer with Houston Select AAU, Khadeem Lattin decided he’d play his sophomore season at Canarias Basketball Academy in Spain.

Lattin, a center who is ranked No. 21 in the ESPNU 25, was originally enrolled at Westbury Christian (Houston).

“I think it’s a great opportunity for him,” said Lattin’s former teammate at Westbury L.J. Rose, a senior point guard who will sign with Baylor this week. “I know he’ll have a great experience over there, and I know his mom wants what’s best for him.”

Lattin’s mother, Monica Lamb, played with the Houston Comets from 1998-2000 and his grandfather, David “Big Daddy” Lattin, starred for Texas Western’s 1966 national championship team, which was featured in the movie “Glory Road.”

Kansas, Texas, Baylor and Texas A&M, among others, are all hotly pursuing Khadeem Lattin.

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