August 24, 2007

Fastbreak Friday: Hitting the road






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It is Friday.


Fall is around the corner.


Schools are in session in some parts of the country, and college basketball prospects are ready to take official visits to some of their favorite programs.


Rivals.com brings back "Fastbreak Friday" for the fall, where we'll track the comings and goings on the official visit circuit.


And they are off


The next two months are very important in the recruiting world.


One of the prerequisites to take an official visit is the high school student-athlete must have taken the ACT or SAT before the college can pay for him to visit its campus. Prospects are allowed five official visits according to NCAA rules. Official visits last 48 hours on campus, and only high school seniors are allowed to take official visits.


A prospect can take as many unofficial visits as he wants, but the trip must be paid for - in its entirety - by the player or his family.


The number of prospects taking trips this week is a bit small because college football has yet to begin. The football games are a major highlight for official visitors. Also, a number of top prospects are in New York for the Elite 24 game at Rucker Park so they won't be on campuses this weekend.


Tigers lead the charge in the ACC


Clemson has a busy weekend in store because two prospects from Georgia are making their way up Interstate 85 to see the ACC school. Nationally ranked guards Andre Young and Tanner Smith are checking out the Tigers this weekend.


Young has watched a pair of his high-major suitors (Maryland and Purdue) take point guards in August. Smith has four more visits after his time at Clemson.


There is a North Carolina-to-Virginia connection this week in the class of 2009. Big man Ryan Kelly is taking an unofficial visit to Virginia on Saturday, while Virginia Tech is hosting wing Garrius Adams in the middle of the week. Kelly hails from Raleigh, while Adams calls Apex home.


Quiet start in the Big East


Big man Frank Ben-Eze of Virginia's Bishop O'Connell High School isn't making a trip this weekend to Marquette. Instead, he'll arrive at the Wisconsin school on Wednesday.


Stephen Van Treese, a Rivals100 junior, is no stranger to unofficial visits. He was a busy man last fall, and this year the Indianapolis native will stop by Louisville to see the Cardinals up close and personal.


Illini hosting key underclassmen


It is a big weekend at the University of Illinois. Bruce Weber and his staff have a trio of important underclassmen on campus. Rivals100 junior point guardChris Colvin will see the Illini up close and personal. He's picking up high-major offers since his impressive July showing.


Class of 2010 guard Anthony Johnson of Chicago and Brandon Paul, a sleeper guard from Gurnee, Ill., will also be in town on unofficial visits. Johnson is considered one of the top prospects in the Windy City, while Paul is on the verge of becoming a hot name nationally according to local hoop mavens.


Indiana was planning on hosting Ohio big man Tom Pritchard in September, but sources close to the situation indicate he will be on Indiana's campus this weekend.


Baylor starting the Big 12 off with a Storm


Baylor has a key visitor this weekend in Louisiana big man Storm Warren. The grind-it-out forward is a major target for the Bears.


Class of 2009 point guard Michael Dixon has plans to stop by Kansas for an unofficial visit this week. The local product hails from the same AAU program as 2008 KU commitment Travis Releford.


Can the Gators do it again?


Coming off a commitment from Connecticut big man Allan Chaney, Florida now shifts its focus to South Dakota's Colton Iverson. The 6-foot-10 post player is a key target for the Gators.


Kentucky hosts Georgia center Ralph Sampson III unofficially this weekend. The fast-rising Rivals150 prospect is the son of the former NCAA star and NBA player of the same name. His father picked Virginia over Kentucky when he was going through the recruiting process.


Mid-majors with major weekend ahead


The mid-majors have a busy weekend ahead of them as well. George Mason is wasting little time getting its top prospects on campus.


North Carolina point guard Andre Cornelius, Virginia big man Nicholas Wright and Indiana center Julius Mavunga are scheduled to be on George Mason's campus this weekend. Talk about starting with a bang.


Jim Baron and his Rhode Island staff landed a key commitment from Jamal Wilson on Thursday, and the Philadelphia-area prospect will trip to the Atlantic 10 school this weekend. The 6-foot-4 wing is a nice catch for the Rams.


Xavier has an important unofficial visitor on campus in Rivals100 junior James Still. The 6-foot-8 Michigan native counts the Musketeers as his only offer to date.


Utah center Justin Hamilton, one of the best in the West at his position, heads to in-state school Weber State for his first official visit of the period.


News & Notes


The nation's top junior is on the move. Renardo Sidney is moving to Los Angeles' Fairfax High School from Artesia High School. Sidney is in New York for the Elite 24 game, but injured his right leg and won't play.


Laron Dendy, a longtime Clemson commitment and prep school vagabond, is leaving South Carolina for Iowa. He's enrolled at Indian Hills Community College and is no longer a member of the high school graduating class of 2008.


Quinton Watkins, a 2007 Illinois signee, is not at the Big Ten school. Instead, he is still in California trying to get his academics in order. Watkins was expected to log important minutes for the Illini this season. Also not making it to campus this fall is Kansas State signee Jamar Samuels. He'll likely spend another year at the Patterson School (N.C.) before making it to Manhattan.


Early Syracuse commitment Dion Waiters will take his game to South Kent (Conn.) this fall. Waiters, a 6-foot-2 Philadelphia native, is a class of 2010 prospect.


Friday Night Lights


The Elite 24 game at Rucker Park in New York City tips off tonight at 8 p.m. Two dozen of the nation's top prospects will play under the lights at the storied outdoor court.


Leading the charge is last year's star Brandon Jennings. He's an obvious fan favorite in the Big Apple.


Jennings will be teamed with Philadelphia schoolboy star Tyreke Evans, who will make an unofficial visit to Seton Hall on Saturday. Rounding out the outstanding backcourt is California native Demar DeRozan, a USC commitment. The three guards will certainly put up points.


New York natives Sylven Landesberg, Kevin Jones and Devin Ebanks are also playing. Louisville-bound Samardo Samuels makes the short trip from New Jersey to attend the game.


Oak Hill bound guard Willie Warren, top five junior John Riek, Georgia commitment Howard Thompkins, Nevada bound Luke Babbitt and the nation's No. 2 junior, Xavier Henry, round out one team.


On the flip side, Lance Stephenson will likely have the biggest fan base at the game. He's a native of New York and currently wears the "next" crown as the city's budding star. Stephenson is coming off a tremendous summer and should receive his fair share of ink after tonight's high-scoring all-star game.


Joining Stephenson is UCLA commitment Jrue Holiday, who was on the back end of some interesting comments from Jennings over the summer. Holiday is a quiet, let-my-game-do-my-talking kind of player, but I'm sure he'll be ready for the contest.


Sidney, the No. 1 player in 2009, will play cheerleader instead of performer due to an injury sustained at a practice on Thursday. Kenny Boynton is one of the elite level scorers in the county and one of the top 10 players nationally in the 2009 class.


He's joined by new high school teammate Eloy Vargas, a top 15 player in the 2008 class. Ohio State-bound center B.J. Mullens is one of the top overall pro prospects in the contest.


Mullens is joined by his Ohio counterpart and future Big Ten rival Delvon Roe, one of the most productive players in the nation. Roe will also be wearing his recruiter's hat as he works on teammate Dexter Strickland, a top 2009 target for the Michigan State Spartans.


North Carolina-bound forward Ed Davis, Connecticut commitment Kemba Walker, UCLA pledge Drew Gordon and underclassmen Noel Johnson and class of 2011 prospect LaQuinton Ross round out the roster.


Justin Young is a senior writer for Rivals.com National Basketball Recruiting. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to email him at jyoung@rivals.com.

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