Thursday, April 30, 2009

Raleigh's Wall to visit N.C. Central

The recruitment of John Wall, the top high school basketball point guard recruit in the country, took another twist Thursday when Wall planned an unofficial visit to N.C. Central.

Wall has known and worked with new Eagles coach LeVelle Moton for years. Wall plans to visit the Durham campus on Friday.

"I want to find out what a historically black school has to offer," Wall said Thursday night. "This is a visit to find out some things."

Wall had planned to trim his list of eight schools to three or four by Friday, but, "truthfully, it looks like it is going to be Monday now," Wall said.

Wall currently has N.C. State, Baylor, Kentucky, Miami, Duke, Kansas, Memphis and Florida on his list. He said there are no leaders, not any group of leaders.

He said internet reports that he had cut his list to Kentucky, Miami, Duke and Florida were erroneous.

"I have not told anyone a group of leaders," he said. "In my mind, the schools are even."

-- Tim Stevens

North Carolina's in-state efforts

After all the commotion that my Tar Heels' post from yesterday engendered, I checked with a source close to the program to see how many kids in the area UNC is interested in.

The numbers can change from week to week as guys pop on and jump off the radar, depending on circumstances.

Before the evaluation period which began last week, the Tar Heels had offers out to seven in-state recruits and seven more in SC. Guys like Chapel Hill High's Robert Crisp, who was offered, don't count because they are already off the board (Crisp to N.C. State).

North Carolina has solid interest in roughly 30 in-state players, and maybe 15 more in S.C. Sounds about right for this time of year, especially since UNC has only 19 scholarships to give for the class of 2010. And prep all-American OT James Hurst already gobbled up one of those.--Stan Olson

Ever hear of Ethan Farmer?

The guys at Sunday's combine hadn't, until a couple of folks tipped them off last week. So they called Ethan Farmer, a rising senior at South Brunswick High, last Friday.

It wasn't a lot of notice, but then the colleges themselves had just discovered Farmer, down there on the North Carolina coast. They liked what they saw, a 6-5, 257-pound DE/TE who looked quick and strong on film.

He had no offers prior to this month. Then Tennessee offered, and then Virginia Tech, Clemson and N.C. State.

And Friday, called. Come on up to Charlotte for the combine, please.

Farmer jumped at the chance. He went ahead and participated in Saturday's Shrine Bowl Combine in Havelock, and there he posted a 4.93 40-yard dash and bench-pressed 185 pounds 21 times. Then, early Sunday he, a fellow teammate and some family made the 5-hour drive to Charlotte.

"Not a lot of sleep this weekend," he said, laughing.

A combine official smiled and said, "I get here at 7:30, the gates open at 8:30 and they were waiting for me, the first ones here."

Farmer impressed on the West Charlotte High practice fields, and then headed home again, another 5 hours.--Stan Olson

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Duke grabs a good one in Mr. Boone

Weddington QB Anthony Boone had a fine performance at Sunday's combine at West Charlotte High, probably playing well enough that recruiters began digging through their contacts for his phone number when they heard the news.

Boone, though, is off the market, happy with his commitment to Duke. The Blue Devils were mentioned by a number of players Sunday, and behind coach David Cutcliffe, seem to be generating more interest among the better Carolinas prospects than in the past. recruiting expert Chad Simmons watched Boone throw and came away impressed.

"I thought Boone looked good," he said. "A little undersized, but a live arm, great release. For him, at 6-foot-1, he’s got to release the ball high, and he does. I think he did really well."

At the combine, Boone also weighed in at a solid 225.8 pounds. And he may not be through growing.

It appears the Blue Devils made a nice catch.--Stan Olson

Another sleeper awakening at Byrnes

I'm writing about the crowd of D-I prospects at Duncan (S.C.) Byrnes for tomorrow's paper, but the school has more talent than just the six members of our Observer Top 25 prospects list that we feature.

Remember the name of Danzell Collins.

He's a big defensive tackle who blew out a knee in last year's state title victory over Sumter High. He caught his cleats in the turf and tore his anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments and also suffered a miniscus tear. Getting back for the 2009 season appeared in doubt.

Collins, though, has worked his rear end off.

"It was bad, but that kid is so strong, and he worked tremendously hard to come back," said Byrnes coach Chris Miller. "Our trainer said he was doing stuff in the training during his rehab that guys in the weight room probably couldn't do."

The 6-foot-2, 225-pound Collins may not be on many schools' radars right now, but he should be back in time to play at least some of the season. Then the scouts will start noticing again.--Stan Olson

Are Tar Heels being too selective?

If North Carolina appears to be off to a slow start in receiving commitments from football players for the class of 2010, well, it's partly because the Tar Heels are.

That's not the whole story. For one thing, UNC has a huge class of 29 players locked and loaded as the class of 2009, and is only planning to take 19 in the upcoming group.

But it's possible the Tar Heels are also being a bit too selective. When the best offensive lineman in the state is in your own backyard--Chapel Hill High's Robert Crisp--and you let him get away to arch-rival N.C. State, that isn't a good thing.

Again, take into consideration the fact that Crisp is a longtime Wolfpack fan, and that N.C. State coach Tom O'Brien is going to be difficult to recruit against in the best of circumstances. And also consider that last week, North Carolina landed one of the best OLs in the country in Indiana's James Hurst.

So UNC is obviously being selective. But when Johnavon Fulton, a brilliant CB out of Manning (S.C.) High, jokingly complains about not having received an offer from the Tar Heels when the rest of the college football world is offering him over and over again, you have to wonder how selective is too selective.

After making those comments, Fulton went on to become the Defensive MVP of Sunday's combine at West Charlotte High, while posting the fastest 40-yard dash time of the day (4.44 seconds).

Maybe North Carolina will notice him now.--Stan Olson

Pack 7-foot recruit eager for ACC play

By Tim Stevens
Staff Writer

N.C. State’s newest basketball recruit says he has never played a game in the United States but he already knows about Atlantic Coast Conference basketball.
Jordan Vandenberg is a native of Australia, grew up in Melbourne and his only experience playing in the U.S. is open gyms at the University of Nevada Reno and at Boise State.
But the 7-foot, 235-pound center knows about college basketball.
“[The ACC] is said to be the hardest competition in college basketball and it is always fierce, fast and strong,” Vandenberg said via email.
The opportunity to play in the league is one of the things that made State attractive to him, he said.
But to play in the ACC, Vandenberg knows he needs to gain weight. He hopes to be able to contribute next season.
“I bring length so I would be able to change shots and rebound most importantly,” he said.
“I know I will be playing limited minutes until I can fully hold my own physically,” he said.
Vandenberg chose State over Utah Valley, Boise State and Nevada-Reno.
State assistant coach Pete Strickland spotted Vandenberg during the center’s one year at the Australian Institute of Sport.
Vandenberg said he admires the play of fellow Australian 7-foot, 260-pound Andrew Bogut of the Milwaukee Bucks, a former Utah star, and 7-foot, 250-pound Paul Gasol of the Los Angeles Lakers, who is a native of Spain.
“I admire most Pau Gasol and Andrew Bogut,” he said. “Theyare very skilled and versatile big men.”
Vandenberg is State’s fifth basketball recruit in the Class of 2009.
State also has signed 6-6 forward Josh Davis of Raleigh Athens Drive, 6-5 guard Lorenzo Brown of Roswell (Ga.) Centennial, 6-5 guard Scott Wood of Marion, Ind., and 6-7 forward Richard Howell of Marietta (Ga.) Wheeler.

Look for Wall's list by Friday

John Wall, the highest-rated high school basketball player in the country who has yet to commit to a college program, said his mother is ready for him to make a college decision.

He is, too, the Raleigh Word of God point guard said Tuesday.

Before he makes his final decision, though, Wall still plans to first trim his list of eight schools to three or four.

He plans to complete that incremental step in his recruiting saga by Friday, Wall said Tuesday. Originally, Wall had hoped to have his list narrowed by early this week; he has not set a timetable for his final choice.

"It is a really tough decision right now," he said. "I know my mom is ready for me to decide, and I am, too, but I'm still working on it."

Duke, N.C. State, Baylor, Kentucky, Miami, Florida, Kansas and Memphis remain on his list.

"I'm still at eight schools," Wall said. "There is no leader."

He has not heard from the University of North Carolina since he spoke with Tar Heels coach Roy Williams during the Final Four in Detroit, Wall added.

"I don't know where I stand with Carolina now," Wall said. "I spoke with them one time. I haven't talked to Coach Williams since."

-- Tim Stevens

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

And the fastest in the shuttle drill...

While the 40-yard dash is important, many coaches and scouts will tell you that they prefer the pro shuttle drill, in which players dart back and forth in the process of covering 20 yards. It offers a good study of their abilities to change direction suddenly.

The best shuttle time Sunday’s combine produced came from running back Mykell Jones of Spartanburg High. He blew the field away with a 4.15-second effort.

Safety Keenan Allen of Northern Guilford, whose name seems to pop up everywhere these days (he’s fourth on The Observer’s N.C. Top 25 prospects list), was second with a 4.23.

Allen was followed by RB Tamari White of Jacksonville White Oak (4.28), QB/WR Lamar Ivey of Eastern Alamance (4.29) and RB Tyler Hamilton of East Rutherford (4.32).--Stan Olson

And now, the fastest of the fast

We've got the statistical results from the high school combine held at West Charlotte High Sunday. The course was difficult because of some dips in the grass practice field. So 4.3 times turned into 4.5s, and 4.6s into 4.8s. The sprints, though, were electronically timed, and that technology doesn’t lie.

The best of the bunch was John Fulton of Manning (S.C) High, a cornerback who turned in a 4.48. Fulton was also named the combine’s Defensive MVP.

He was followed by defensive end Darius Wallace of Sumter, S.C.’s Crestwood (4.49), RB Jerrell Priester of Allendale-Fairfax (S.C.) High (4.53), DE Chris Smith of West Rowan High (4.57) and RB Tyler Hamilton of East Rutherford (4.58).--Stan Olson

Another name to watch--David Amerson

One recruiting truth is evident--with all the spring and summer camps and combines for prospects these days, you can't hide talent. And so it is with David Amerson, a safety from Greensboro Dudley high.

I'm writing about Amerson in tomorrow's Observer, and he's an interesting guy. At this time a year ago, football wasn't even on his radar. His football coach, though, saw him jamming a basketball every which way in the high school gym. Maybe it was the shoes, but you'll find out more about that tomorrow. The football coach, Steve Davis, talked him into coming out to play as a junior.

The result? Nine interceptions, and 60 tackles. And by this spring, offers all over the place.

Amerson, now a solid 6-foot-1 and 180 pounds, has offers from just about everyone who has been paying attention. He currently lists his three favorites as Virginia Tech, Notre Dame and N.C. State.

“I also like Wake a lot and Duke showed me a lot of interest, and Louisville," he said after turning in a 4.61 40-yard dash over a bumpy grass course. "I talked to a (UNC) Tar Heels coach for the first time Wednesday.”--Stan Olson

Another area kid making a splash

In today's Observer, we told you about Butler High QB Christian LeMay, who is still just a sophomore but is making a huge splash at spring camps and combines. The rising junior may be one of the nation's top prospects at his position next year.

The Charlotte area, though, has more standouts-in-waiting than just LeMay. For instance, Ardrey Kell high running back Justice Pickett (the names don't get much better than that).

Pickett sent a spark through Sunday's combine at West Charlotte High when he first broad-jumped a fine 9'4," but then pushed his mark to 10'2" with his second leap, a remarkable 10-inch increase.

"You just don't see that, an increase that large after a good first jump," said scouting director Scott Kennedy.

Pickett is 5-10, 169 and a rising junior, so he has time to grow. Even if he doesn't, he can add the pounds needed to be a solid collegiate RB.

Oh, and keep an eye on WR Kris Frost, who is LeMay's teammate and also in the class of 2011. Already 6-3 and 200 pounds, he should be a prime target for LeMay this fall.

--Stan Olson

Monday, April 27, 2009

No sleeper here; Allen is wide awake

Northern Guilford's Keenan Allen, an athlete who will make a fine wide receiver or safety in college, is hardly a sleeper. All you had to do is watch him for a few minutes at Sunday's high school combine at West Charlotte High to know the kid can play, that he's a remarkable athlete.

Universities have been tripping over each other in the rush to offer him scholarships, and he already has a basket full. But he's not close to making up his mind.

Alabama, which seems to be making inroads in the Carolinas this year, is his current leader. Asked why Sunday, he said, "They have a great coaching staff; I keep in contact with them, and they are good friends."

It's all about winning hearts and minds, guys.

But 'Bama still has work to do, because the silky-smooth 6-foot-3, 195-pound Allen is enjoying the recruiting process and is in no hurry to see it end. In fact, he plans to take all five of the school visits allowed to recruits.

Pressed for a list of his current top five teams, though, he started with the Crimson Tide and then added Clemson, Oregon, California and North Carolina, in that order.--Stan Olson

And those offers keep pouring in...

A quick update; I just heard from Butler coach Mike Newsome concerning all those offers that rising junior QB Christian LeMay is raking in, and he added South Carolina and Illinois to the list. But he also mentioned that he can't keep up with the total, and that LeMay "gets one almost every day."

Frost, also a rising junior, has not been offered yet, but is popping up on teams' radars.

--Stan Olson

LeMay to Frost: Butler's prime connection?

Butler High will be loaded with senior talent this season, but there is still more in the pipeline, starting with quarterback Christian LeMay and wide receiver Kris Frost. Both are rising juniors and both attended Sunday's combine and played well enough to attract more attention.

LeMay in particular impressed; he's already 6-foot-2 and 190 pounds, and could grow still more. He threw the ball well in one-on-one drills at West Charlotte High.

"LeMay may be one of the best players in the country next year," said recruiting analyst Chad Simmons. "Great release, great balance, and he's a very mature kid. He's smooth, he's not rushed, he's patient. He throws the deep ball well, the underneath ball well.

"He looks like a miniature Daunte Culpepper, very sculpted physically."

LeMay already has offers from Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest.

Frost, who had four catches as a sophomore, is 6-3 and 200 pounds, and is attracting attention as schools wait to see his performance on the field. He's due for considerably more playing time in the fall.

--Stan Olson

John Wall not ready to narrow list yet

John Wall, the Raleigh Word of God basketball point guard, said Monday morning that he had not narrowed his list of schools yet.

Wall, the top-ranked high school senior point guard in the country, made an official visit to Miami last weekend and was in school at Word of God on Monday.

He said he enjoyed his visit to Miami and that he had not narrowed his list of schools yet.

Wall had planned to trim his list of schools to three or four early this week.

Wall is expected to trim his list from N.C. State, Baylor, Duke, Memphis, Kentucky, Miami, Florida and Kansas.

-- Tim Stevens

And a little more from the combine

The high school combine at West Charlotte Sunday had plenty of already-sizzling prospects, but it also offered a look at some kids that might not have gotten much attention until now. Just a quick glance at several -- some well-known, others, not so much:

*Guys like West Rowan High wide receiver Jon Crucitti. In the one-on-one receiving drills, he made a huge impression with the catch of the day. He had beaten his defender deep but the pass appeared overthrown. Then Crucitti lunged, reached forward with his left hand and caught the ball, a true one-handed grab.

*People are always looking for the next big thing, and they might have to look no further than D.J. Goodman, a Greenwood (S.C.) freshman (Class of 2012) who turned in a remarkable 4.64-second 40-yard dash and impressed with his athleticism. He can play running back, quarterback or wide receiver. Keep an eye on him.

*Blake Gowder of Union Co. High in Blairsville, Ga., had just bolted through a 4.58 40. He said he had a bad start and asked scouting director Scott Kennedy if he could run it again. Kennedy grinned at him and said, “Trust me, you don’t have to run again; everybody knows you’re fast.”

*Some guys simply make you stop and watch. Northern Guilford’s RB/safety Keenan Allen, No.4 on our N.C. Top 25 Prospects list, is one of those guys. He’s 6-2 but with the quickness and smooth movements of a shorter man. He has more than 20 offers, and he did nothing to lower his stock Sunday.

--Stan Olson

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Today's combine was, well, loaded

As good as Gabe King was (see previous post), there was considerable talk of giving the overall MVP award to Manning (S.C.) High cornerback John Fulton. Going on essentially no sleep and after changing a flat tire on I-85 on the way to the combine, he turned in the best 40-yard dashes of the day, clocking in at 4.48 and 4.44. He was named the combine's defensive MVP.

Fulton said he's already got eight college offers, and each is from a big-time school--Alabama, Florida, Tennessee, South Carolina, Clemson, Maryland, N.C. State and Georgia. He smiled and added, "And North Carolina's sending me letters. What do I have to do? Come on, offer your boy."

While most schools think he would be a better fit at safety than CB, he would rather play the latter and wants to prove he's fast enough, despite his 6-foot-1 height.

By the way, he's No.8 on The Observer's South Carolina Top 25 prospects list, and today could boost him higher.

The offensive MVP was Tehvyn Brantley, a blur of a 5-9 wide receiver from Mt. Zion Christian Academy in Durham. Brantley was so excited that after working through the crowd of players to pick up his trophy, he jumped into his dad's arms.--Stan Olson

Watching the big dogs eat at the Combine

Gabe King is a beast.

And we could just leave it at that. Watch him pass-rush from his defensive end slot against some of the Carolinas' best offensive linemen, and watch no one--and I mean no one--come close to stopping him.

This happened this afternoon at the Combine at West Charlotte High School. Probably 200 of the best players in the area showed up, and King, who played last year at Greensboro Page, is 6-foot-6, more than 250 pounds and, from what I saw, apparently unstoppable.

He also ran the 40-yard dash in an electronically timed 4.75, over a very bumpy grass route on the West Charlotte practice field. There were DBs being clocked at 4.8 and 4.9.

When it was over, after 5 hours of collisions, measuring and drills, King was the combine's overall MVP. More to come from a very interesting day later.--Stan Olson

Friday, April 24, 2009

Tar Heels land five-star tackle

James Hurst, a 6-foot-5, 271-pound offensive tackle at Plainfield, Ind., has committed to the University of North Carolina.

Hurst is rated by as a five-star player, its highest rating. has Hurst listed as its No. 3 offensive tackle prospect in the country.

"He is the total package," said Plainfield assistant coach Brent Schwanekamp. "He is in the top 20 academically in his class, he has a tremendous work ethic and he is a great athlete."

Hurst was a national recruit and turned down the likes of Alabama, Michigan, Florida, Ohio State, Penn State and Georgia to pick the Tar Heels.

"He is the type of athlete that you could teach him an entirely new sport and in a very short time he'd be pretty good at it," Schwanekamp said. "He is very goal oriented. He set a goal of being a Division I player and he achieved it."

-- Tim Stevens

Cary heavyweight picks N.C. State

Eloheim Palma of Cary, a national high school heavyweight wrestling champion, has signed with N.C. State.

Palma may be the most highly decorated high school wrestler ever in North Carolina. He won senior nationals at Virginia Beach, Va., earlier this spring after placing in the top three in the junior and sophomore championships in previous years.

He was a three-time N.C. High School Athletic Association champion.

"When you think of all the high school wrestlers in the state, he probably is the most decorated," said Cary coach Jerry Winterton. "He had an unbelievable career."

Palma was a national recruiting target and had several offers, including one from defending national champion Iowa. But he chose to stay close to home.

"I think the chance to stay here and to continue to work out with his brother were big factors in his decision," Winterton said.

Jainor Palma was an Atlantic Coast Conference heavyweight champion at State.

"Eloheim was able to work out with his brother a lot," Winterton said. "I think that was a big factor in Eloheim's success."

-- Tim Stevens

Raleigh linebacker collecting offers

Southeast Raleigh High linebacker Kendall Moore is collecting scholarship offers the way some people do trading cards.

The latest to offer the 6-foot-3, 230-pound linebacker are Notre Dame and Mississippi State.

He already held offers from North Carolina, N.C. State, Wake Forest, Duke, East Carolina, West Virginia, South Carolina, Clemson, Maryland, Florida State and maybe a few more.

His mother has relatives in Baton Rouge and LSU is expected to visit soon.

Southeast quarterback Gabe Henderson also is attracting national attention. Kent State has offered and Southeast coach Daniel Finn believes Virginia Tech has as well. East Carolina is expected to come for a visit and Purdue is planning a trip.

-- Tim Stevens

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Charlotte Christian's Gill gets major college offers

Charlotte Christian sophomore basketball player Anthony Gill, a 6-8 post, has received written offers from Virginia Tech, High Point and Appalachian State, coach Shonn Brown said.

Gill averaged 13 points per game for the Knights last season. Christian reached the semifinals of the N.C. Independent Schools 3A state tournament before losing to eventual champion Arden Christ School.

-- Langston Wertz Jr.

Two big recruiting events hit Charlotte area this weekend

Two big recruiting events are in the Charlotte area this weekend.

Friday through Sunday, the Football University camp is at Wingate College. The camp, which runs at several sites nationwide, targets top high school players. The camp claims to bring in former professional players and other top instructors to put the high school players through a rigorous three-day training session.

Top players expected to participate include Mallard Creek running back Tyler Beamon (Division I-AA interest and UNC), Independence QB Anthony Carrothers (Cincinnati, Kansas State, Louisville, Akron, ECU, Fla A&M), Independence DB Vic Hampton (Florida commit), W-S Reynolds' running back Jermaine Clark (UNC, NCSU, Va., Va. Tech, Wake) and Newton Foard kicker Jordan Thacker (Duke, NCSU, South Car, Wake, Navy).

Sunday at West Charlotte, will host its annual combine for top prospects. Many of the area's best are expected to participate in the invitation-only camp.

One invitee is former Victory Christian wide receiver Tehvyn Brantley, a 5-9, 175 pound wide receiver, who left Victory Christian in September to enroll at Durham Mount Zion. Brantley switched positions, throwing 15 touchdowns as a quarterback. He will graduate in December and is looking at enrolling early at college at receiver. His father, Laroy, said Tehvyn is getting interest from Buffalo, Central Michigan, North Carolina, South Carolina.

The scout combine is run by Terry Smith of Gateway High in Monroeville, PA. Smith is a former coach at the U.S. Army All-American game.

Testing will begin at 10 a.m. and the event will end at 2 p.m.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

John Wall wants the college experience

John Wall plans to go to college.

Others may say he is ready for the NBA, but he is talking about playing college basketball. He plans to have his list of schools down to three or four by next Monday.

"The amount of money you hear [for high picks in the NBA draft] is pretty impressive," Wall said Tuesday. "But I really think I need one, two, three years of college to prepare me to play in the NBA. I don't think I'm ready to play in the NBA right now and I want the college experience. Going to college would be good for me."

He plans to trim his list of potential schools to three or four by Monday. He currently has seven schools on his list - N.C. State, Duke, Baylor, Kansas, Miami, Kentucky and Memphis.

Memphis was the leader for Wall until Coach John Calipari resigned and went to Kentucky. Wall "There is no leader," he said. "No leader at all."

Wall said he was not sure if he has a college board score that is high enough to allow him to play as a freshman at an NCAA major college.

"I have great confidence that I'm going to get the score I need if I don't have it already," he said.

-- Tim Stevens

Looking for that big-time sleeper

We're always looking for that guy who comes out of nowhere as a senior and suddenly has colleges drooling over him, and Ardrey Kell High's Troy Elkins has a chance to be that guy.

Elkins has been in the program four years now, and has shown flashes before but never quite put it together. He started a few games at defensive back as a junior but produced negligible stats, and college scouts didn't even have him on their radar.

That may have changed at a recent N.C. Shrine Bowl scouting combine, where Elkins turned in a 4.48 40-yard dash and a 33-inch vertical leap.

"He may be a late bloomer," said Ardrey Kell coach Marty Woolbright today. "He hasn't done much before, but he's a good kid, and he's got a lot of skills. He's got to make plays, and right now we're depending on him to do that."

Woolbright expects Elkins to play both safety and wide receiver. Now the scouts know who he is, and he'll be in a position to have an impact on the team. He just has to do it.

--Stan Olson

Monday, April 20, 2009

Florida coach has Wall fever

Billy Donovan once showed up at Broughton High School parking lot to wave to Shavlik Randolph.

The Florida coach is back in the Triangle in recruiting mode, apparently searching for John Wall (850 the Buzz) at a Starbucks.

Wall Fever (patent pending) is sweeping the nation from Coach K to Manhattan tourists to contract lawyers. Still no word, or even a timetable, for Wall's decision. Seeing as how his list of colleges has expanded in the past month — from Kentucky, Miami and UNC to the University of Phoenix and DeVry Institute — there's no end in sight.

Actually, he can take his sweet time with his college choice (assuming he qualifies). He can wait all the way until the first day of classes for the fall semester (some time in August). If he decides the challenge the NBA, and he said that's not his plan, he would have to do that by Sunday.

Post script on Donovan: After forward Alex Tyus decided to transfer, Donovan delivered the money quote in regard to the exodus from Florida's program in the past 12 months — "In all reality, we lost a player or two players off two NIT teams."

Now that's how you say goodbye in Gainesville, no soft-shoe release from the school with a fabricated quote from the coach wishing so-and-so good luck.

-- J.P. Giglio

Shrine Bowl Combines continue this weekend

After holding Shrine Bowl scouting combines in Matthews (for the North Carolina team) and Spartanburg (for SC) on Saturday, the Shrine coaches will continue sorting through their prospects this weekend. Both events are set for Saturday, with the NC kids meeting at Havelock High and the SC prospects gathering at Wilson High in Florence.

I was at the SC session at Dorman High School over the weekend, and one thing the coaches stressed is that none of the 140 candidates were going to make the team on what they did that day. But they very easily could rule themselves out.

"One of the kids asked me, 'Coach what are you looking for?'" said Shrine assistant Art Craig, the head coach at Saint Stephen Timberland High. "The first thing I'm going to look for is effort. And I told him, 'You can't be picked today, but you can surely be eliminated by lack of effort.' And that's not if you drop a ball; it's how you react to some situations.

"If you do throw a bad pass or drop one or fumble one, how do you react to it? We're going to be playing against some great players, and they're going to make some plays. And if we win or not is going to depend on how we react."

Which probably didn't help the case of one wide receiver who, running a 15-yard out route, was hit in the hands by a pass and dropped it. He came back to the end of the line of receivers muttering, "Geez, that guy was throwing bullets." It looked like Craig heard him, but that wideout should hope that wasn't the case.--Stan Olson

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Charlotte Latin star Chadwick still looking

Charlotte Latin basketball standout David Chadwick has been released from his commitment to Washington State, but the 6-8, 215-pound forward is not expected to join former Cougars coach Tony Bennett at Virginia.

Recruiting analyst Bob Gibbons of All-Star Sports said Bennett was a family friend from when Bennett played with the NBA's Charlotte Hornets in 1992-95.

"I imagine David will have a lot of options," Gibbons said. "I think he is going to develop."

-- Tim Stevens, (Raleigh) News & Observer

Deacons land guard prospect

Wake Forest's men's basketball team may have gotten some immediate help at guard this week when former Kentucky commitment Konner Tucker signed with the Deacons.

The 6-foot-4 Tucker led 26-6 Jacksonville (Texas) Lon Morris College with 16 points per game last season as a freshman.

Tucker graduated from Fort Worth (Texas) Paschal High in 2008 with a 4.1 grade point average.

He has three years of eligibility remaining and can play during the 2009-10 season.

Tucker had made a verbal commitment to former Kentucky coach Billy Gillispie but resumed the recruiting process when Gillispie was let go and replaced by John Calipari.

"Konner embodies everything that a Wake Forest basketball player is; he is an outstanding student, a high character individual and a terrific player," Wake Forest coach Dino Gaudio said in a release. "His basketball savvy, toughness and his ability to shoot the ball from long distance will help our basketball team immensely."

Tucker is the first junior college player to transfer to Wake Forest since East Wake alum Sean Allen joined the Deacons from Anderson Junior College prior to the 1994-95 season.

-- Tim Stevens, (Raleigh) News & Observer

SE Raleigh's Howell headed to Bethune-Cookman

Southeast Raleigh football running back Kevin Howell has signed with Bethune-Cookman in Daytona Beach, Fla.

The 5-10, 195-pound Howell rushed for 1,752 yards in 2009, averaging 125 yards per game.

"We are really pleased to get him," Bethune-Cookman coach Alvin Wyatt said.

"He comes with good bloodlines. Kevin is related to Larry Little [former Miami Dolphin all-pro guard], who I played with and coached with. Larry was very instrumental in Kevin coming with us."

-- Tim Stevens, (Raleigh) News & Observer

Saturday, April 18, 2009

"4.7? I ain't run a 4.7 in forever."

Those were the words of one frustrated sprinter at today's South Carolina Shrine Bowl Combine workout at Dorman High just outside of Spartanburg. The 40-yard-dashes were being run on a grassy practice field, and times better than 4.5 seconds were rare, perhaps non-existent.

There were reasons that many in the crowd of 140 players from across the state struggled in the event. Tracks, with their non-yielding surfaces, always produce times that are at least somewhat better than turf-generated speeds.

But that's the point, according to Fairfield Central High coach Reggie Kennedy, the organizer of the event.

"They ain’t gonna be playing on a track; they’re gonna be playing on grass,” he said. "They also want to wear their track shoes; here, they’ve got to wear football cleats."

Still, occasionally players were not hurt by the switch to sod. Guys like linebacker Chris Beitz, a 6-1, 191-pound LB from Seneca High. Beitz's personal best had been 4.54 seconds. Saturday, he ran a 4.5 and a 4.52, prompting whoops from a timer or two.

His secret? Maybe the fact that in the offseason, he runs up and down the fairly steep hill in his backyard, ten times, every other day. He hasn't received a lot of recruiting attention yet, but that could change.--Stan Olson

Wall, Kelly to star in Jordan game

Raleigh's John Wall and Ryan Kelly will join several ACC basketball recruits tonight in the Jordan Brand Classic All-American high school basketball game.

The all-star game is scheduled for 8 p.m. at New York City's Madison Square Garden. It will be broadcast live by ESPN2.

The top 10 high school players in the ESPNU top 100 are on the 24-man rosters.

ESPNU has Avery Bradley of Tacoma, Wash., who played at Findlay College Prep in Las Vegas, ranked as its No. 1 player. The guard is committed to Texas.

Also playing are No 2. Derrick Favors of South Atlanta High (Georgia Tech); No. 3 Xavier Henry of Oklahoma City, Putnam City High (uncommitted); No. 4. DeMarcus Cousins of Mobile (Ala.) LeFlore (Kentucky).

Wall of Raleigh Word of God is uncommitted.

Among the ACC recruits in the game are North Carolina's John Henson of Tampa (Fla.) Sickles, Duke's Kelly and Mason Plumlee of Arden Christ School and Miami's Durand Scott of New York City's Rice.

-- Tim Stevens

Carolinas best prep players get their own combines

Some of the best high school football players in North Carolina will gather at Butler High this morning for a Shrine Bowl scouting combine.

A similar event is being held today at Dorman High in Spartanburg for S.C. players.

Find out more about this event in Langston Wertz's preview of the event.

-- Staff

Friday, April 17, 2009

Wolfpack quietly making strides

While North Carolina's 2009 recruiting class was widely touted nationally and Duke was rightly applauded for making strides under coach David Cutcliffe, keep your eyes on N.C. State.

The Wolfpack recently grabbed possibly the state's best lineman right out from under the Tar Heels--Chapel Hill OT Robert Crisp attends Chapel Hill High but committed to Tom O'Brien's Pack. Crisp is huge (6-7, 300 pounds) and remarkably polished for a prep junior, and should have an impact on NCSU's offensive line when he arrives in Raleigh.

Crisp joins Chapel Hill High teammate Pete Singer, a safety, as an NCSU commitment.

The Wolfpack finished last year's regular season with four straight wins, and that train appears ready to keep rolling.--Stan Olson

Recruiting gets a little crazier

This week began a four-week stretch in which college recruiters can go to high schools to assess prospects. They can go to any individual school twice over this period, once to check on a player's academics and another time to judge his athletic ability and football skills.

Kids, that should give you some idea of who all those guys hanging out in the film room with your coaches are. And while the recruiters are limited to two visits at any one school, they'll be packing as many prep stops as possible into a hectic month.

Those who have North Carolina as part of their territory, for instance, will make sure not to miss Independence High, where CB Victor Hampton leads a bushel of almost-ready-for-prime time prospects. Hampton has already committed to Florida, but in recruiting, committed is not the same as signed, and rest assured that many other schools haven't given up on him yet.

There are also plenty of other high school hotshots in the area, so recruiters won't just swing by Independence and call it a day. How about running over to Lake Norman High to see lineman Kane Sherrill? Or stopping by Butler to see wide receiver Nate Charest? And we're not too far from Mallard Creek; let's say hello to guard Devin Flowers.

I guess this has always been a fairly crazy time, but now with all the recruiting services and analysts generating a publicity crush, it seems as if another top-flight prospect is making his decision every day.--Stan Olson

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Charlotte Christian lining up at linebacker

Charlotte Christian could have one of the better linebacking corps in the state with the transfer in of rising senior David Durham from Austin, Tex. Durham's addition to the team's defense has prompted coach Jason Estep to strongly consider running a 3-4 alignment to get four LBs on the field at the same time.

Durham is a 6-foot-3, 228-pound force who has already been offered by and committed to Ohio State. He would be joined in the foursome inside by the heavily recruited Ty Linton and outside by Kelby Brown, along with Matt Hall.

Linton in particular is a major recruiting target. According to Estep, he already has offers from Duke, North Carolina, Virginia, Wake Forest, West Virginia, Syracuse, Illinois, Wisconsin, Vanderbilt and Miami of Ohio.

Brown has been offered by Indiana and Syracuse.--Stan Olson

Tar Heels miss out on Jones

Tai-ler Jones, a wide receiver at Gainesville (Ga.) High, committed to Stanford this afternoon. North Carolina had been in the running for Jones, who also had offers from Georgia, Alabama, Notre Dame, Ohio State and UCLA, among others.

Jones and his father visited Stanford last week over his spring break, and the player came back with his mind made up, he told Gainesville coach Bruce Miller.

"He's doing it for more than football; he's not one of those kids who comes out of high school already thinking about the NFL," Miller said. "He wants to be a sportscaster after college."

But Jones can play. He had 81 catches for 1,000 yards as a junior, with 15 TDs. And Miller said, "He runs the most precise routes of any kid I've ever seen."

*Gainesville has another big-timer in 6-3, 195-pound DB Daunte Carr, who has offers from Duke, East Carolina, N.C. State, South Carolina and Wake Forest among others, and is also interested in Clemson.

The never-ending story

In recent years, college football recruiting has become more of a year-'round sport than the PGA and NASCAR. Even as the 2009 recruiting classes were being signed and sealed back on Feb. 4, everyone from experts to fans to college coaches was focusing on the class of 2010.

Kids have been committing to schools earlier and earlier, and more future stars are found as youngsters work their way through the "combine season," gathering for one-day spring workouts where they are weighed and measured and put through various drills. There are two big ones--Shrine Bowl Combines for both North and South Carolina--Saturday, with the North meeting at Butler High and the South at Spartanburg Dorman High.

The players will run the 40-yard dash, do a vertical jump, be timed in the pro shuttle agility drill and have their bench-press repetitions counted (with 185 pounds). They will also do position-related football drills.

Kickers start at 10 a.m., position players at 11.

I'm going to check out South Carolina's rising stars, while our Langston Wertz checks on N.C.'s newest prospects. You can as well--it's open to the public, free of charge. Fairfield Central High football coach Reggie Kennedy is coordinating the Spartanburg event, and I spoke with Sean Glover, Fairfield's associate head coach.

"We've been really working on this, getting ready," Glover said. "We expect to have about 125 kids there. I can't tell you who; it's all kind of a blur with all those names."

Glover said that the coaching staff for the South Carolina Shrine Bowl team will be on hand, along with most of the coaches selected for the state's North-South all-star game.

This gives them a head start in getting an idea of which players they want to focus on during the season. Us, too.--Stan Olson