Thursday, April 29, 2010
Jones' decision is anyone's guess
By Christopher Lawlor ESPN.com
Tacit by nature, Terrence Jones, is taking his silence to a new level. Which has put several coaches and fans in limbo.
Terrence Jones is the nation's top uncommitted prospect.
Jones, the versatile 6-foot-9 power forward from Jefferson High in Portland, Ore., will break his silence Friday afternoon (6:30 p.m. ET) when he announces his college choice.
The decision is late in the process for the prolific prospect, who played in the Jordan Brand Classic, Nike Hoops Summit and McDonald's All-American Game -- the trinity of senior all-star contests -- this spring.
Even Democrats coach Pat Strickland isn't quite sure where his All-America player, ranked No. 9 in the ESPNU 100, is headed.
"I don't even think Terrence knows where he's going yet," Strickland told ESPN.com on Thursday.
Jones' list of suitors includes: Kentucky, Kansas, Oregon, UCLA, Oklahoma and Washington.
If he opts for Kentucky or Kansas, Jones is thinking tradition and Final Four.
UCLA is in dire need of bodies, with coach Ben Howland hitting the trail hard following a rare losing season on the Westwood campus.
Washington is close to Portland and advanced to the Sweet 16 in March. Jones' aunt, Ava Mashia, played for the Huskies women's team.
Jones can stay in-state and play for the Oregon Ducks, who earlier this week hired Dana Altman and will move into a state-of-the-art arena.
Must be nice to have options.
"I spoke with mother and we're going to each other 'Do you know what Terrence is doing yet?'" Strickland said.
Jones, the two-time Oregon Class 5A Player of the Year, put the Demos (26-3) on his shoulders this season, leading them to the a third straight state championship, and averaging 32 points, 13 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 blocks.
The announcement will take place at Jefferson's gymnasium in North Portland. Jones will share the podium with three of his teammates -- 6-7 Stephen Madison (No. 100 small forward), 6-2 Antoine Hosely and 6-6 Terrence Ross (No. 30 in ESPNU 100). The players are expected to don caps of their college choice upon announcing.
Madison, a first team all-state wing, struck for 18.6 points per game after transferring for his final prep season from Prairie (Vancouver, Wash.). He'll sign with Idaho over Eastern Washington. "He's a shooter who can play the 2, 3 and 4," Strickland said.
Hosely, a combo guard, will choose between Cal-Bakersfield and Gardner Webb.
Ross, who transferred back to Jefferson (after spending a year-plus at Montrose Christian in Rockville, Md.) on Feb. 2, is an athletic wing who can shoot the long ball.
Strickland said Ross will choose amongst Kentucky, Oregon, Washington, Kansas and UCLA. "He really improved his ballhandling skills and defense while at Montrose Christian," he added.
Multiple sources have indicated Ross will sign with Washington.
Paterson closing has prospects scrambling
Kyle Anderson Jr. never saw it coming, and neither did his teammates. When it was announced last week that Paterson Catholic High would close in June at the conclusion of the school year, the only audible sounds were mainly sobs.
Some players, like junior point guard Myles Mack, took the news personally, said coach Damon Wright, while Anderson knew it was time to mobilize.
Meaning the talented 6-8 sophomore with several college options needed to find alternate plans for the 2010-11 school year.
Recently Anderson announced he will transfer to national powerhouse St. Anthony (Jersey City). Two seasons ago the Friars won the New Jersey State Tournament of Champions title and are always in stiff competition with St. Patrick (Elizabeth) for that honor.
This season Anderson, who is in the pool for the U.S. U17 developmental team, showed why he is best suited -- at least for now -- on the perimeter as a point forward. He contributed 10.8 points, 5.1 rebounds and 3.3 assists.
At St. Anthony, Anderson would fill a void; graduation claims four starters -- 6-1 Eli Carter (signed with St. Bonaventure), 6-7 Derrick Williams (Richmond), 6-9 Devon Collier (Oregon State) and 6-8 Ashton Pankey (Maryland).
Anderson would join 6-3 junior Tyquan Goodlet, forming one of the state's premier backcourts. Goodlet showed his worth, gaining valuable experience and hitting big shots, this season when the Friars advanced to New Jersey's Non-Public B final before being upended by eventual TOC champ Trenton Catholic.
Goodlet is getting feelers from several Big East schools.
The Cougars, who went 28-1 and captured their third straight Passaic County title before being eliminated in the Non-Public B state semifinals by St. Anthony, would have returned a solid core, with Mack as the go-to player.
That won't happen unless there's a last-minute reprieve from the Paterson Diocese or unless the school secures independent funding.
The school's closing -- rumored on several occasions -- has left the affable Mack silent.
Mack is too upset to talk. Wright said he's still sorting through things with Mack's parents.
"He's devastated," Wright said. "He hasn't opened up to anybody. I'm been trying to console him but he's taking it hard. He'd have been a senior in the fall and that's tough. It's going to be tough on all the students but the juniors may take it the hardest."
Mack likely is bound for a mid-major program in a conference such as the Atlantic 10. That could change with a big summer on the club circuit, however.
Mack is good enough to play at that level. Known as a tenacious defender on the perimeter (2.8 steals), the 5-9, 160-pound Mack also averaged 14.8 points, second-best for the Cougars, and is a legit long-range threat with the ability to stretch a defense.
Mack's clutch play was evident at the City of Palms Classic (Fort Myers, Fla.) in December when he sank a free throw to force overtime en route to a 62-54 win over Montverde (Fla.) Academy. He finished with a game-high 21 points and followed up that effort with 16 in the title game as the Cougars beat Winter Park (Fla.) to win the championship on ESPNU.
So far the schools most interested are Saint John's, Virginia Tech, Fordham, Western Kentucky, Rice, Virginia, Providence, St. Bonaventure, DePaul and Penn State.
At 6-5, Reggie Cameron would be another great get. He still has three years of high school eligibility remaining and projects as a high-major player.
It also appears two players from Patterson -- 6-5 Jayon James and 6-9 junior Derrick Randall -- are headed to prep school. James, who has Ivy League grades, verballed to Fordham in December but has since pulled it once the Rams made a coaching change in March.
Randall's options are limited. Wright said the post player "exhausted his high school eligibility in New Jersey."
Making the grade
Academic all-star Meyers Leonard has skills on and off the court.
Here's a refreshing twist on the senior all-star circuit, which essentially ends this weekend: Academics are considered first.
No surprise academic powerhouses such as Northwestern, Pennsylvania, Georgia Tech, California, Wake Forest, Stanford and Virginia are represented at the High School Academic All-American Basketball Classic. Those are the name programs that compete in big-time Division I conferences.
Hey, in this game the little guys have a say.
Participants also will be attending schools such as Whitman (Calif.), MIT and Middlebury (Vt.), where life on the Division III level will certainly relegate their play to somewhat obscurity.
That's why the second annual game will be played Saturday (7:30 p.m. PT) at Azusa Pacific University's Felix Center in Azusa, Calif. The most important statistic in the game program isn't points, rebounds, blocked shots or assists but grade point average.
The cumulative GPA of the players is 3.6, with the minimum 3.0 needed for consideration to participate in the game.
While at the game, players and their parents will attend seminars on financial planning, academic management of college coursework, mental training, professional basketball training after college and maximizing the college experience.
Frank Allocco, coach of the National squad, feels the strike-force of academics and athletics deserve the platform. Allocco, who coaches De La Salle High in Concord, Calif., played for legendary Notre Dame coaches Ara Parseghian and Digger Phelps while taking a full course load as a two-sport athlete.
"This game is for true scholar-athletes," he said. "The committee has identified these players as leaders at the next level. Plus there are some very good basketball players."
On the court, there's talent, too. Nine participants are in the ESPNU 100.
The highest rated player is 6-10, Stanford-bound Dwight Powell of IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., who checks in at No. 40. He's followed in the top 60 by No. 43 Keala King of Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.); No. 47 Meyers Leonard of Robinson (Ill.); and No. 57 Allen Crabbe of Price (Los Angeles).
Unlike the rest of the players, 6-2 Jason Pospichal is undecided. Earlier this week Pospichal, of Prestonwood Christian Academy in Plano, Texas, visited Central Arkansas, hoping to land a scholarship with the Southland Conference school.
For Pospichal, bein selected to the AAAC was an honor.
"Until you're selected you don't realize to what extent this game means," said Pospichal, who maintains a 3.18 GPA on a scale of 4. "I work hard to keep up my grades so I can imagine how hard it is for guys who have a 3.8 or 4.0 [GPA]."
Pospichal was a key member of Prestonwood Christian's Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools (TAPPS) 5A state championship team. As a senior he averaged 13.1 points but was the team's primary perimeter threat, canning 123 3-pointers on 41 percent accuracy.
Pospichal will participate in the David Ellis Chrysler 3-Point Contest. There is also a slam dunk competition.
At 6-8, John McArthur was named first team all-state in California. McArthur, who will attend Santa Clara in the fall, helped stake De La Salle to the CIF North Coast Section academic leadership award and tournament title as the Spartans (29-3) went to the CIF Division I Final Four.
"By the end of the season John was the best in the state [of California]; he really earned his way into the game," said Allocco of his player.
Here are the rosters for the High School Academic All-American Basketball Classic, many of whom are highly rated by ESPNU (player's college choice is listed).
American: 6-8 Tobi Oyedeji, Bellaire (Houston), Texas A&M; 5-9 Ahmad Starks, Whitney Young (Chicago), Oregon State; 6-2 Jason Pospichal, Prestonwood Christian (Plano, Texas), undecided; 6-9 Richard Solomon, Price (Los Angeles), California; 6-3 Casey James, Capistrano Valley (Mission Viejo, Calif.), Pennsylvania; 6-6 Keala King, Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.), Arizona State; 6-3 Royce Woolridge, Sunnyslope (Phoenix), Kansas; 6-6 Allen Crabbe, Price (Los Angeles), California; 6-4 Nate Bulluck, Harvard-Westlake School (North Hollywood, Calif.), Middlebury; 6-5 JerShon Cobb, Columbia (Decatur, Ga.), Northwestern; 6-6 Kyle Collinsworth, Provo (Utah), BYU; 7-0 Meyers Leonard, Robinson (Ill.), Illinois; 7-0 Carson Desrosiers, Central Catholic (Lawrence, Mass.), Wake Forest; 6-9 John McArthur, De La Salle (Concord, Calif.), Santa Clara. The coaches are Michael Lynch of Price (Los Angeles) and A.D. Burtschi of Putnam City (Oklahoma City).
National: 6-3 Miles Cartwright, Loyola (Los Angeles), Pennsylvania; 5-8 Mike Attanasio, Harvard-Westlake School, MIT; 6-7 Anthony Brown, Fountain Valley (Calif.), Stanford; 6-2 Joshua Duckworth, Brentwood (Los Angeles), Whitman; 6-4 Kendall Williams, Los Osos (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.), New Mexico; 6-3 Ben Brust, Mundelein (Ill.), Iowa; 6-5 Jason Morris, The Hotchkiss School (Lakeville, Conn.), Georgia Tech; 6-5 Alex Rossi, New Trier (Winnetka, Ill.), Calif.; 6-7 Hector Harold, Northfield Mount Hermon (Mass.), Pepperdine; 6-6 Erik Swoope, Harvard-Westlake School, Miami; 6-4 Lenzelle Smith Zion (Ill.) Benton, Ohio State; 6-10 Dwight Powell, IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.); 6-8 Josh Huestis, C.M. Russell (Great Falls, Mont.), Stanford; 6-9 James Johnson, Elsinore (Wildomar, Calif.), Virginia; 6-11 Alex Kirk, Los Alamos (N.M.), New Mexico. The coaches are Frank Allocco of De La Salle (Concord, Calif.) and John Carroll of Northfield Mount Hermon.
Christopher Lawlor has covered high school sports for more than 20 years, most recently with USA Today.