Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Kannapolis athlete picks Heels

Kannapolis A.L. Brown athlete Damien Washington wasn't fazed by the turmoil surrounding the University of North Carolina football program and has given a commitment to the Tar Heels.

Washington plays slot receiver and running back for A.L. Brown and is 6-foot-2, 190 pounds. First-year A.L. Brown coach Mike Newsome said Washington obviously is aware of the changes and uncertainty at North Carolina after coach Butch Davis' firing July 27, but was ready to commit quickly after receiving a scholarship offer.

Newsome said Washington has always wanted to play at North Carolina. He is the first player to known to have given a new commitment (as opposed to re-affirming an existing commitment) to the Tar Heels and interim coach Everett Withers since Davis was fired.

"Kids are resilient," Newsome said. "They don’t always look at the probation stuff and all that. That’s where the kid wanted to go."

Although Washington didn't have any other Football Bowl Subdivision scholarship offers, Newsome suspects that he would have received at least one more offer later in the recruiting calendar.

He said Washington's versatility is his strength; he's a natural receiver or running back who can play several positions.

"He’s a lot of different things," Newsome said. "He also can play defense. I think Carolina thinks he can come in and play corner or safety for them because he’s so athletic."

Ken Tysiac

Friday, July 29, 2011

Timing of Duke scholarship offer questioned

Duke released a statement Friday after reports that basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski may have violated an NCAA recruiting rule by offering a scholarship to a recruit during a summer club tournament.

“In all rules matters brought to our attention, the Duke compliance department exercises due diligence in determining the relevant facts of a given situation,” Duke associate director of athletics for media relations and public affairs Jon Jackson said in the statement. “Proper adherence to NCAA bylaws has always been, and will continue to be, a cornerstone of Duke Athletics.” reported that Krzyzewski offered a scholarship to Class of 2012 standout Alex Poythress, a 6-foot-7 forward from Clarksville, Tenn., on Tuesday. But the scholarship offer reportedly came before Poythress’ Georgia Stars team completed play in the Super Showcase tournament in Orlando, Fla.

NCAA Rule prohibits coaches from contacting athletes until they are finished playing in a tournament.

Jackson declined further comment; NCAA rules that prevent staff members from talking about recruits that have not signed scholarship agreements.

Ken Tysiac

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Wolfpack adds a tight end, too

Newark (Del.) High football coach Butch Simpson said you don't hear the ball hit David Grinnage's hands when Grinnage catches a pass.

"He has incredibly soft hands," Simpson said. "Catching the ball is probably the best thing that he does."

The 6-foot-5, 243-pound senior committed to N.C. State on Tuesday.

"I think that N.C. State is looking at him as a tight end, but we run a spread and he was more of a slot back, an H-back for us," Simpson said. "We had four good receivers ahead of him at the start of last season, but he kept getting better and better and started catching passes and scoring touchdowns."

Newark finished 6-4 in 2010, but averaged 37 points per game.

Grinnage is a great athlete, Simpson said. Grinnage was a wrestler and hit clean up for the Newark baseball team.

-- Tim Stevens

N.C. State gets commitment from OG (with video)

Eddie Gordon, a 6-foot-2, 315-pound offensive guard, announced Tuesday that he will accept a football scholarship to N.C. State.

Gordon made his commitment on his 17th birthday.

"I knew I wanted to go to N.C. State and I decided to announce on my birthday," he said.

Boiling Springs (S.C.) High coach Bruce Clark said Gordon had made himself into an outstanding prospect.

"He is an exceptional blocker," Clark said. "He has tremendous feet, changes direction well and is excellent blocking downfield. He has great movement as a pass blocker."

Clark said Gordon was a year younger than many of his classmates.

"Eddie is going to continue to get better," Clark said. "He is still growing and maturing. If he had two more years of high school instead of just one, he'd be a monster."

Gordon also had offers from East Carolina and Furman.

"N.C. State was the first school to show interest in me. It invited me to its camp after my freshman year," Gordon said. "And State was the first school to offer me a scholarship, too.

"After I visited there, I really liked Coach [Tom] O'Brien and his staff, the players and the players that are coming in. The facilities are fantastic and I really like the school. I knew it was the place for me."

-- Tim Stevens

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Tar Heels land QB prospect

North Carolina has received a commitment from quarterback Patton Robinette of Maryville (Tenn.) High School, according to Inside Carolina's website.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Tar Heels add football commitment

Justin Meredith, a 6-foot-5, 230-pound tight end at Anderson (S.C.) Hanna, turned down more than 30 other scholarship offers to commit to the University of North Carolina.

Meredith already has accepted a spot in the UnderArmour All-America football game next spring. Clemson, South Carolina, Virginia Tech, Tennessee and LSU were among the offers he most seriously considered.

“He is your prototype tight end,” said Hanna coach Kenya Fouch. “He is a big kid with long arms who is quick and strong. He makes good grades and has good character. He is exactly what college coaches are looking for.”

Meredith was on the Hanna varsity as a freshman. The school has a strong football tradition and currently has graduated players on the rosters of Wake Forest, N.C. State, Kentucky and South Carolina.

Hanna was 7-6 in 2010 but lost three games to teams that advanced to the state championship game in their classification.

-- Tim Stevens

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Gill beats buzzer for big TOC win

RALEIGH – In his home gym Sunday, Ravenscroft junior-to-be Anton Gill provided a spectacular finish to the 16-and-under division of the Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions.

Gill’s Garner Road team got the ball with a two-point deficit after the Long Island Lightning scored on a tip-in with four seconds remaining in the 16-and-under championship game.

Taking the ball in the backcourt, Gill crossed the halfcourt line, pulled up from 28 feet and rattled in a 3-pointer as the buzzer sounded for a 58-57 win.

“I just wanted to get the best look possible,” Gill said. “I looked up, and I didn’t see anybody and I was open. So I got to a good spot and I just let it go and it went in.”

Gill scored 13 points to lead Garner Road in the championship game and was named 16-and-under most valuable player. The honor added to his reputation as a big-time recruit – he’s rated the No. 23 player in the nation in the Class of 2013 by

He said that at this point, he is not overly concerned with the recruiting process. His ACC scholarship offers thus far have come from N.C. State and Wake Forest.

“I’ve got a lot of offers, a lot of Division I looks, but I don’t think I’m ready yet to make a decision where I want to go to college,” Gill said. “I just have to keep working hard and working on my game and I know when it comes time to make a decision I’ll make the right one.”

Gill’s game-winning buzzer beater was his second in the Ravenscroft gym. On Feb. 2, he made a 3-pointer from the corner to defeat Middle Creek 59-57.

Sunday’s winning basket had him waxing nostalgic about attending the Tournament of Champions in past years and watching players such as John Wall (now of the Washington Wizards) and C.J. Leslie (N.C. State).

“There’s been so many great players in this tournament,” Gill said, “and I was definitely one of the guys up in the stands jumping up and down when shots like this happened.”

Garner Road’s successful overall weekend also included a championship in the consolation bracket of the 17-and-under division.

T.J. Warren scored 39 points in the title game win over Belmont Shore. Garner Road failed to make the championship bracket after a Saturday loss to Team Loaded when N.C. State commitment Tyler Lewis scored 47 points to outduel Warren, who scored 41.

“It was a tough loss, but we got over it,” said Warren, the MVP of the consolation bracket.

In the 17-and-under championship bracket, the Southern Phenoms defeated the South Florida Panthers 59-53.

Ken Tysiac

Friday, May 27, 2011

Tokoto opens TOC with a slam

RALEIGH - On one of the first possessions of tonight's game, future University of North Carolina wing J.P. Tokoto stole a pass on the wing and glided downcourt for a two-handed dunk.

Tokoto, who's committed to the Tar Heels for the Class of 2012, got off to a decent start tonight at the Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions at Ravenscroft School. Tokoto, who's 6-foot-6, scored a team-high 19 points as his Wisconsin Playground Warriors summer club team defeated the North Carolina Gaters 57-51 in their tournament opener.

Still, he didn't sound satisfied.

"Everybody was a little bit sluggish from the start," Tokoto said. "Everybody is coming back from two weeks ago we came back from a good tournament win in the adidas May Classic. Everybody was a little sluggish the first game, but we’ll look better by tomorrow."

Ken Tysiac

Monday, May 23, 2011

UNC gets two linebacker commitments for 2012

Two players who committed to North Carolina in the past few days will help shore up the Tar Heels' linebacking corps beginning in 2012.

Durham Jordan's Phillip Williamson and Holy Spirit High (Absecon, N.J.) defender Dan Mastromatteo have decided to join the Tar Heels.

Williamson plays strong safety at Jordan but has grown to 6-foot-3 and 205 pounds and is likely to help the Tar Heels at outside linebacker, according to Jordan coach Mike Briggs. Williamson had scholarship offers from North Carolina and Duke, and had several other schools showing interest.

Briggs said Williamson has natural size and strength, and displays an intense desire to improve.

"It's hard to outwork him," Briggs said. "He works hard in the weight room and works hard on the field."

Mastromatteo is about 6-2 and 215 pounds.

Ken Tysiac

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Murphy formally signs with Duke

Duke has received a national letter of intent from forward Alex Murphy, who recently decided to forgo his senior season at St. Mark's School in Southborough, Mass., and enroll in 2011 to play for the Blue Devils.

Murphy averaged 21.0 points per game as a junior while leading St. Mark's to a 27-3 record. He had started high school at the Prout School in Rhode Island before transferring to St. Mark's, where he repeated his freshman year and reclassified to the Class of 2012.

His family has strong ties to basketball. His father, Jay, played for Boston College and in the NBA in the 1980s, and his mother, Paivi played for the Finnish national team. Murphy's brother, Erik, plays at Florida. ranks Murphy as the No. 40 player overall in the Class of 2011. Murphy joins guards Austin Rivers and Quinn Cook, forward Michael Gbinije and center Marshall Plumlee in a Duke Class of 2011 group that will be rated as one of the top classes in the nation.

Ken Tysiac

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Shooting guard Raymond signs with N.C. State

Statesboro (Ga.) shooting guard Jaqawn Raymond followed through Wednesday on a commitment he had made to N.C. State under its previous coaching staff when he signed with the Wolfpack and new coach Mark Gottfried.

Lee Hill, Raymond's coach at Statesboro High, confirmed the signing. Raymond had committed to former N.C. State coach Sidney Lowe, but Hill said Raymond felt comfortable with the new staff after they visited him.

Raymond, who's 6-foot-4, averaged 21.3 points per game and shot 79 percent from the free throw line last season. He also carries a 3.5 grade-point average, Hill said.

"They're getting a very high-IQ basketball player. . .a very good outside shooter, athletic-type kid that's going to be smart in the classroom also," Hill said.

Ken Tysiac

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Recruit Murphy to enroll a year early at Duke

Highly rated basketball recruit Alex Murphy will graduate from high school a year early and enroll at Duke in 2011 rather than 2012, his father confirmed Tuesday night.

Jay Murphy, who played four seasons in the NBA in the mid- to late 1980s, referred to a quote his son gave Fox Sports columnist Jeff Goodman, saying Alex considered this a difficult decision but one that’s best for him.

“We’re excited about the opportunity for Alex,” Jay Murphy said. “We know it’s a great program, and we know he’s going to have to work harder than he ever did before.”

Alex Murphy is a 6-foot-8, 180-pound forward at St. Mark’s School in Southborough, Mass., who was rated the No. 11 player overall in the Class of 2012 by He should have an opportunity to contribute right away because Duke is losing a player with similar size and skills, forward Kyle Singler, who was a senior in 2010-11.

Murphy will be the fifth member of Duke’s 2011 recruiting class. He joins guards Quinn Cook and Austin Rivers, forward Michael Gbinije and center Marshall Plumlee in the class.

Duke has one more scholarship left to give for 2011.

Ken Tysiac

Friday, April 15, 2011

N.C. State releases recruit from scholarship

N.C. State basketball recruit Joseph Uchebo, a 6-foot-9 forward at Raleigh Word of God, has requested a release from his scholarship offer.

Uchebo could not be reached for comment today, but N.C. State spokesperson Annabelle Myers confirmed that Uchebo had made the request of new coach Mark Gottfried and the Wolfpack program. N.C. State has granted Uchebo's request, Myers said.

"The staff wishes him the very best wherever he wishes to go," Gottfried said in a statement released by Myers.

-- Lorenzo Perez

Thursday, April 14, 2011

N.C. State gets commitment from QB

Greensboro Page quarterback James Summers has committed to N.C. State, according to Pack Pride website (full story requires a subscription).

Here is Summers' profile from

Friday, April 8, 2011

No commitment for Duke yet from Daniels

Kyrie Irving probably spoke a bit prematurely regarding IMG Academy Class of 2011 forward DeAndre Daniels and Duke.

IMG Academy director of basketball Andy Borman said this morning that Daniels is considering the Blue Devils and will visit for Duke’s banquet on April 15.

But Borman said Daniels hasn’t committed to Duke and hasn’t even been offered a scholarship, although that might change when Daniels visits Durham.

During a teleconference with reporters Thursday to discuss Irving’s decision to enter the NBA draft after one season as a Blue Devils guard, Irving said he thought Duke had five freshmen entering the program next season with the addition of Daniels.

Borman – who played for Duke from 1999 to 2004 - said he isn’t sure what Daniels said to Irving. Borman characterized Daniels as “extremely interested” in Duke, but not committed.

“As of now, DeAndre has not committed, nor has he offered,” Borman said.

Daniels, a 6-foot-8 forward rated the No. 35 player in the Class of 2011 by, has rescinded a commitment to Texas, but still is considering the Longhorns along with Duke, Kansas, Florida and other schools.

In the fall, Duke signed guards Austin Rivers and Quinn Cook, forward Michael Gbinije and center Marshall Plumlee in the Class of 2011. Irving’s departure opens up an extra scholarship for the Blue Devils; they have 11 of their 13 scholarship slots filled for 2011-12.

Ken Tysiac

Thursday, April 7, 2011

If Irving is right, Daniels may soon be a Devil

If Kyrie Irving’s comments during a telephone conference with reporters this afternoon are any indication, Class of 2011 forward DeAndre Daniels may soon be committed to the Blue Devils.

During a conference scheduled to discuss Irving’s decision to enter the NBA draft, Irving was asked if he had given thought to how good Duke might have been next season if he had decided to return.

“That’s something I’ve thought about considerably because of the talent that we’ll have next year,” Irving said. “I think this year’s team was really special and I think next year’s team would be really special if I were to return.

“I think we have about five recruits coming in with the addition of DeAndre Daniels. That’s five recruits. So it would be really special, so that would give me a chance to lead the team. . . .If I were to return, it would be a really special team.”

Daniels, a 6-foot-8 forward rated No. 35 in the nation by, has not announced a commitment. He has opened up his recruiting after rescinding an earlier commitment to Texas.

If Daniels does choose Duke, it wouldn’t be a surprise. Andy Borman, the basketball director at IMG in Bradenton, Fla., played for Duke from 1999 to 2004.

IMG basketball operations director Greg Spatola is the brother of Duke director of basketball operations Chris Spatola, who is married to Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski’s daughter, Jamie.

Efforts to reach Borman for comment on whether Daniels has committed to Duke were not immediately successful.

Duke already has signed Austin Rivers, Marshall Plumlee, Michael Gbinije and Quinn Cook in the Class of 2011.

Ken Tysiac

Friday, March 4, 2011

VIDEO: Tar Heel commitment J.P. Tokoto

Wisconsin high school player J.P. Tokoto committed to play college basketball at North Carolina late Thursday night. Here's a video with highlights of Tokoto from an AAU tournament last summer:

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Wisconsin wing Tokoto picks Tar Heels

North Carolina added a highly regarded wing player to its 2012 recruiting class late Thursday night when J.P. Tokoto of Menomonee Falls, Wisc., announced that he is committing to the Tar Heels.

Ritchie Davis, Tokoto’s club coach with the Wisconsin Playground Warriors, confirmed that Tokoto had spoken to North Carolina coach Roy Williams on the telephone and informed him that he had chosen the Tar Heels.

Tokoto is a 6-foot-6, 190-pound wing who’s rated the 32nd-best player in the nation by ESPN.
He joins point guard Marcus Paige of Marion, Iowa, in the Class of 2012 for North Carolina.

Ken Tysiac

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Juco LB Desir has signed with UNC

Junior college linebacker Fabby Desir signed with North Carolina on Monday and has overnighted his scholarship papers to the school, his coach confirmed today in an e-mail.

Lackawanna (Pa.) College coach Mark Duda calls Desir a "high-motor kid" who is going with excellent speed as a converted running back and safety at 6-foot and 230 pounds.

Desir joins a class that was ranked No. 17 in the nation by by on signing day last month.

He visited North Carolina last week and also considered Cincinnati and Ball State, and was being recruited by Alabama as well, Duda said.

Ken Tysiac

Monday, February 28, 2011

Juco LB to sign with UNC today

North Carolina will add junior college linebacker Fabby Desir to a 2011 class that was ranked No. 17 in the nation by on signing day.

Desir will sign with the Tar Heels at noon today, Lackawanna (Pa.) College coach Mark Duda said.

"He's a super strong kid, incredibly tenacious, goes after the ball very, very well," Duda said.

A converted running back and safety, Desir played outside linebacker for Lackawanna but could play any of the three linebacker positions for the Tar Heels, Duda said.

Desir is 6-foot and 230 pounds and also had considered Cincinnati and Ball State, and received late interest from Alabama, Duda said. Desir visited North Carolina last week and will sign this morning at Scranton High, where he played in high school.

Ken Tysiac

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Q&A with Duke signee Austin Rivers

Winter Park, Fla., senior guard Austin Rivers, a Duke signee who's ranked the No. 1 player in the Class of 2011, was selected Tuesday to play in the 2011 Jordan Brand Classic, scheduled for April 16 at Charlotte's Time Warner Cable Arena.
In an exclusive telephone interview, he talked about his goals for the Jordan Brand and McDonald's All-America games, his plans for improvement, and the effect his father, Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers, has had on him:

Q: You’ll be playing in some postseason all-star games here soon. What do you want to do in them?

A: Most importantly, win. Everything is more fun and enjoyable when you win. So just, go in there, play hard and win. I think to have fun. . .and strengthen relationships with my friends. A lot of guys [I know] are going to be there. It’s always nice to kick back and relax and hang out with players that are in similar situations that you are. It will be nice to go there, see some guys, compete and play basketball. Hopefully I can just do my thing and come away with a win.

Q: What are your goals between now and when you come to Duke? I guess you’re probably coming in the summer?

A: Just to continue to get better, improve on my skills and just keep developing and getting stronger. That’s my main focus right now, to strengthen my skills and my body.

Q: Any particular skills you feel you need to work on?

A: I’ll say my mid-range as far as, I have a really nice three-ball and a really nice handle where I can get into the paint and finish or dunk on someone or something like that. I think mid-range is always a lost art of the game, so it’s always nice to have everything. I really do have a strong mid-range, but it’s just to work on everything, really, and get ready to have a defensive mind set. With Duke, they pick up a lot of times fullcourt man and Coach K and those [coaches] emphasize defense. That’s one thing I want to get better on.

Q: How much of an influence has your father had on you? You seem to understand the game extremely well. How much is he a part of that?

A: He’s a big part of it. I’ve been around the game my whole life, so I’ve gotten to see and meet and talk to a lot of different NBA players and see how their lives are and how they live. And I grew up around my Dad, who knows the game as well as anybody. He’s always taught me right from wrong as far as basketball, what to say and what not to say, what to do and what not to do. I think just having him in my corner my whole life has been a benefit playing basketball.

Q: You scored 46 points in a game as a high school sophomore? Is that right? How did you do it?

A: I’ve always been a scorer. I’ve always been a great scorer. That’s one thing I’ve always had confidence in myself as far as me thinking I’m better than anybody. I’ve always had a mind set where I’ve always felt you need more than one person to guard me. Especially now that I’m a lot better than I was back then. They basically just played man, and it was just one on one. And that’s not going to work out too well. I got hot. And things got going and shots started falling.

Q: Is that the most you’ve ever scored?

A: Last year, I think I scored 47 against somebody. I’ve scored 40 a lot of times. I think I’ve scored 40 four times this year and five times last year. I think 47 is my high in a high school game.

Q: How did international play [on the USA under-18 select team] help you?

A: That was actually one of the best experiences I’ve had playing basketball, just getting a taste of what it’s like over there [in international basketball]. It’s really similar. The only difference is, you’ve got to be a lot more focused on the defensive end because they take their time to get shots up and they’re really smart basketball players. They’re not as athletic as us over here so what they rely on is their IQ. So you really have to be focused on is the defensive end, which is fun.

Ken Tysiac

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Jordan Brand Classic has Duke-UNC appeal

High-scoring guard Austin Rivers anticipates cheers and perhaps some boos when he plays in the Jordan Brand Classic at Charlotte’s Time Warner Cable Arena at 8 p.m. on April 16.

Rivers joins Michael Gbinije as one of two Duke signees on the roster announced this afternoon for the high-profile high school all-star game. The game will have a distinct Duke-Carolina flavor, as North Carolina signees James McAdoo and P.J. Hairston also are on the roster.

“I know there’s going to be a lot of Duke people there to support me and a lot of North Carolina people hating on me,” Rivers said. “At the end of the day, it’s all good. The Duke and North Carolina fans are the best fans in basketball, in my opinion.”

High Point’s Quincy Miller, who has signed with Baylor, and Winston-Salem’s Sir’Dominic Pointer (St. John’s) will provide homegrown talent to the game, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary.

The game began as the Capital Classic and was played three years in Washington, D.C., before being held the last six years in New York. Moving the game to Charlotte takes it to an area with strong college basketball fan support.

“The people from North Carolina are definitely going to be excited about seeing the North Carolina and Duke players,” McAdoo said. “We’re looking forward to that, showing our talents to the UNC future fans.”

The game will be televised on ESPN2. The event also will include an international game at 3:30 p.m. and a regional game at 5:30 p.m. featuring top high school players from North Carolina in an East vs. West format.
Sixteen top 17-and-under players from around the world will compete in the international game. Rosters for the international and regional games will be announced at a later date.

The main event will feature the top five players in the Class of 2011 according to ESPNU’s rankings. Winter Park, Fla., standout Rivers is ranked No. 1, followed by two Kentucky-bound players, Anthony Davis of Chicago and Michael Gilchrist of Elizabeth, N.J. Miller is No. 4, and McAdoo, a forward from Norfolk Christian in Virginia, is No. 5.

The game’s sponsor, Jordan Brand, is a division of Nike, Inc.

McAdoo will be returning to familiar territory because his sister, Kelsey McAdoo, played basketball for the Charlotte 49ers. He said he has enjoyed visiting Charlotte because of its diverse selection of restaurants and is looking forward to coming back because of Charlotte Bobcats owner Michael Jordan’s history as a former Tar Heel guard.

Charlotte being the team that Michael Jordan owns and of course, Michael Jordan’s connection with North Carolina basketball, and with P.J. in the game also, I’m really looking forward to it,” McAdoo said.

Ken Tysiac

Tickets for the Jordan Brand Classic are now on sale at all Ticketmaster locations, the Time Warner Cable box office, online at or by calling 1-800-745-3000.

Jordan Brand Classic roster announced

Jordan Brand, a division of Nike, announced today that the following players have been selected for the Jordan Brand Classic, a high school all-star game to be played at Charlotte's Time Warner Cable Arena on April 16: 

ESPNU 100 Rank, Player, Name (Home/college choice)

No. 1 Austin Rivers (Winter Park, Fla./Duke)

No. 2 Anthony Davis (Chicago/Kentucky)

No. 3 Michael Gilchrist (Elizabeth, N.J./Kentucky)

No. 4 Quincy Miller (High Point/Baylor)

No. 5 James McAdoo (Norfolk, Va./North Carolina)

No. 7 Bradley Beal (St. Louis, Mo./Florida)

No. 8 Marquis Teague (Indianapolis/Kentucky)

No. 9 Myck Kabongo (Henderson, Nev./Texas)

No. 10 Adonis Thomas (Memphis/Memphis)

No. 11  Khem Birch (Fitchburg, Mass./Pittsburgh)

No. 13 P.J. Hairston (Chatham, Va./North Carolina)

No. 14 Tony Wroten Jr. (Seattle, Wash./Washington)

No. 15 Kyle Wiltjer (Portland, Ore./Kentucky)

No. 16 Rakeem Christmas (Bryn Athyn, Pa./Syracuse)

No. 18 Michael Carter-Williams (Providence, R.I./Syracuse)

No. 22 Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (Greenville, Ga./Georgia)

No. 24 Jabari Brown (Oakland, Calif./Oregon)

No. 28 Michael Gbinije (Richmond, Va./Duke)

No. 29 Shannon Scott (Alpharetta, Ga./Ohio State)

No. 30 Johnny O’Bryant (Cleveland, Miss./LSU)

No. 34 Sir’Dominic Pointer (Winston-Salem/St. John’s)

No. 42 Otto Porter (Sikeston, Mo./Undecided)

The game marks the event's 10th anniverary. It starts at 8 p.m. and be televised live on ESPN2.

Pack commitment is 6-10 with deep range

North Broward (Fla.) Prep coach Scott Williams said 6-foot-10 Josip Mikulic reminds N.C. State assistant coach Monte Towe of Dwayne Schintzius, a 7-footer who played for Towe and Norm Sloan at Florida in the 1980s and later in the NBA.

Mikulic, a current high school junior who is originally from Croatia, has committed to N.C. State, Williams said.

"He's an extremely good shooter," Williams said. "He has NBA range and is very fundamentally sound for a big kid. He's a good, quality basketball player."

Williams said growing up overseas, where players are known for developing their perimeter skills, helped Mikulic hone a good 3-point stroke. Mikulic also had a late growth spurt.

"Up until two or three years ago he was a guard," Williams said. "He was 6-2, 6-3. He was a perimeter player, and he grew into that body."

Mikulic planned to commit to the first school that showed a commitment to him, and N.C. State was that school, Williams said.

"He's a very loyal kid, and I think he thought Coach [Sidney] Lowe could develop his game," Williams said. 

Ken Tysiac

Friday, February 11, 2011

Duke reels in another big 2012 commitment

Rasheed Sulaimon gave Duke its second top-20 commitment in a week in the Class of 2012 when he chose the Blue Devils after visiting campus for Wednesday's game against North Carolina.

Sulaimon, a 6-foot-4, 180-pound shooting guard from Strake Jesuit College Prep in Houston, Texas, is rated No. 19 in the class by Earlier in the week, 6-8 forward Alex Murphy of St. Mark's School in Southborough, Mass., committed to Duke. Murphy is ranked No. 11 in the class by

Marland Lowe, who coaches Sulaimon for the Houston Hoops club team, said Sulaimon was impressed with the atmosphere at Cameron Indoor Stadium and the academics at Duke. Lowe said Sulaimon is an excellent student who also considered Texas, Baylor, Arizona, Stanford and Harvard.

Lowe said Duke's combination of academic prestige and college basketball tradition led him to select the Blue Devils. Although Sulaimon plays shooting guard, Lowe said he can create shots for teammates and defend well enough to play point guard.

"He's a stud," Lowe said. "He's a high-volume scorer, a great defender, a great teammate, a great kid from a great family."

Sulaimon's strengths, according to Lowe, are his ability to create shots for himself and score off screens. Sulaimon also prides himself on being able to guard the ball and defend the opposing team's best player.

Ken Tysiac

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Slight edge in recruiting to Roy Williams over Coach K

Since Roy Williams began coaching at North Carolina at the beginning of the 2003-04 season, the Tar Heels and Duke have met seven times.

Duke won the first three and swept the last two in the 2010 NCAA title season. In between, North Carolina won seven of nine on its way to two NCAA championships.

Coach Mike Krzyzewski, who’s 34-35 in his career against North Carolina, has a chance to get to .500 if Duke wins tonight.

Those are the results that really matter – the on-court wins and losses. The long-term success of both programs shows that both coaches excel at team building and game planning.

They also both have done an excellent job recruiting. Duke and North Carolina wouldn’t be winning ACC and NCAA titles if they weren’t getting good players.

In this area, though, Williams has a slight edge over Krzyzewski, according to’s team recruiting rankings. Neither class was ranked in the top 25 by in 2004.

Since then, North Carolina signed more highly rated classes than Duke four times in six years (2005 to 2010). Here is the breakdown:

Class    UNC rank        Duke rank
2010    4          10
2009    5          8
2008    11        27
2007    NR       8
2006    1          5
2005    9          2

Year by year, here is how those classes shaped up. In 2005, Duke signed Josh McRoberts and Greg Paulus in what was expected to be one of the nation’s top classes. But North Carolina got Tyler Hansbrough and Danny Green, who helped lead the team to two Final Fours and the 2009 NCAA title.

In 2006, Brandan Wright, Ty Lawson and Wayne Ellington gave the Tar Heels the top-rated players at three positions. Lawson and Ellington played pivotal roles in the team’s NCAA tournament success in 2008 and 2009. But Duke signed three players – Jon Scheyer, Lance Thomas and Brian Zoubek – who led the Blue Devils to the 2010 title as seniors.

In 2007, Williams had a deep roster and put all his focus on one player. If you were only going to recruit one guy in the class, Kevin Love was the right guy. But he went to UCLA, and North Carolina didn’t sign anybody. Duke’s signees included Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler, who have made huge contributions the last two seasons.

In 2008, Ed Davis and Tyler Zeller led North Carolina’s class. Duke got Elliot Williams, an excellent guard who transferred after one season, and Miles Plumlee.

In 2009, Duke signed Mason Plumlee, Ryan Kelly and Andre Dawkins, who all have shown promise as sophomores. Similarly, John Henson and Dexter Strickland led a North Carolina class that’s solid as well.

In 2010, each school landed an outstanding player. Harrison Barnes was rated the No. 1 recruit in the nation by many, and chose North Carolina after also considering Duke. The Blue Devils signed Kyrie Irving, who might have been the best guard in the nation before a toe injury sidelined him after eight games. Reggie Bullock and Kendall Marshall gave the Tar Heels what appears to be a stronger overall class, as they have been more productive so far than Tyler Thornton and Josh Hairston for Duke.

All-Star Sports recruiting analyst Bob Gibbons agrees that North Carolina may have had a slight edge in recruiting over Duke since Williams’ arrival, but it’s not much.

“It’s so close, it’s too close to call from my observations,” Gibbons said.

Gibbons also said that Duke’s class for 2011 appears better. The spring signing period isn’t over, so it’s possible that both teams could add more players. North Carolina may look to bring in a point guard after Larry Drew II’s sudden departure.

Only Kentucky and St. John’s have stronger classes for 2011 than Duke, according to Gibbons. Guard Austin Rivers, who’s committed to the Blue Devils, generally is considered one of the top three players overall in the nation. Gibbons said North Carolina (led by forward James McAdoo) has a top-10 class for 2011.

“The point is, here are two programs that literally are going head to head in many instances for the very elite players in the nation,” Gibbons said, “and to be able to accomplish that speaks volumes for the head coaches and the tradition of their programs.”

Ken Tysiac

Monday, February 7, 2011

Alex Murphy commits to Duke for 2012

Alex Murphy, one of the most skilled forwards in the Class of 2012, has committed to Duke, St. Mark’s School (Southborough, Mass.) coach David Lubick confirmed by e-mail.

Murphy is 6-foot-8 with strong ball handling and perimeter shooting skills. He is rated the No. 9 player overall in his class by veteran All-Star Sports analyst Bob Gibbons.

"It’s really almost a seamless fit in terms of Duke’s style of play and his skill set," said ESPN recruiting analyst Dave Telep. "He is a small forward with really good size, solid ball skills, a better athlete than first glance. And I think this is a guy that can play in the lane and on the perimeter."

Telep and Gibbons both compare Murphy's skill set to that of current Duke senior forward Kyle Singler, who was the most outstanding player at the Final Four last year as the Blue Devils captured the NCAA title.

They said there is no guarantee that Murphy will develop the way Singler has, but can play small forward and power forward, just like Singler.

"He’s not as physically strong and advanced right now," Gibbons said, "but compare them at the same level as juniors in high school, I think Alex might get a little higher mark than Kyle."

Like Singler, whose father, mother and brother all have played Division I sports at Pac-10 schools, Murphy has strong family ties in basketball. His father, Jay Murphy, played for Boston College and in the NBA in the 1980s.

Alex's brother, Erik, is a sophomore forward at Florida. Their mother, Paivi, played for the Finnish national team.

Ken Tysiac

Thursday, February 3, 2011

UNC gets linebacker commit for 2012

On the morning after national signing day today, outside linebacker Shareef Rashad called coach Butch Davis to get North Carolina's 2012 recruiting class started.

Rashad, a 6-foot-2, 225-pound outside linebacker from Episcopal High in Jacksonville, Fla., committed to the Tar Heels during the phone call.

He had visited the school unofficially last summer.

He chose North Carolina over South Carolina, Duke and Central Florida, where his brother, Washington Redskins defensive back Sha'reff Rashad, played in college.

"He's got a little genetic thing going there," Espiscopal coach David Hess said of Shakeel's abilities. "He does well out in space and he covers a lot of ground."

Rashad is a high school teammate of Class of 2012 wide receiver Erich Schneider, who already is the lone commitment in Duke's next recruiting class. Hess said Rashad was happy to get the recruiting process behind him and plans to graduate from high school and enroll early in January of 2012 and go through spring practice. 

Ken Tysiac

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

UNC signs 25 in highly-rated class

CHAPEL HILL - North Carolina coach Butch Davis stood in front of the podium this afternoon with a look of satisfaction on his face.

"Today was a very good day," Davis said at his news conference to announce the Tar Heels' 2011 class on national signing day. has ranked North Carolina's class No. 3 in the ACC. The Tar Heels signed 10 players on offense, 14 on defense and kicker/punter Miller Snyder of Charlotte.

The Tar Heels got a big signing day commitment from McKeesport (Pa.) defensive tackle Delvon Simmons, who's rated the No. 80 player in the class by

They accomplished the strong class despite an NCAA investigation into the program that caused 14 players to miss at least one game and seven to miss the entire season in 2010. North Carolina officials have said they don't know how or when the NCAA will rule on possible sanctions for the program.

But Davis said athletic director Dick Baddour researched similar cases in the past and what the sanctions might be and shared his findings with parents of prospects who were concerned.

"First and foremost, we were always honest with the kids we recruited," Davis said. ". . .We never tried to paint a picture of things that weren't realistic."

Ken Tysiac

UNC misses on LB Grant

North Carolina, which earlier in the day picked up's No. 80 prospect nationally in defensive tackle Delvon Simmons, missed out on another top linebacker target this afternoon.

Curtis Grant of Richmond, Va., who had been considering the Tar Heels, committed to Ohio State, according to the Columbus Dispatch.

Despite losing Grant, the addition of Simmons earlier in the day should ensure that North Carolina signs a top-20 class.

Ken Tysiac

Q&A on UNC commit Delvon Simmons

McKeesport (Pa.) defensive tackle Delvon Simmons, who's rated the No. 80 player overall in the nation by, gave North Carolina's recruiting class a huge boost with his commitment Wednesday on national signing day.

Here's what McKeesport coach Jim Ward said about Simmons in a telephone interview:

Q: Why did he choose UNC?
A: He thought the capus was absolutely beautiful. It was far enough away from home but not too far away from home. Butch Davis’ ability to develop defensive linemen was very important. The graduation rate of their players, and being able to play in a pure 4-3.

Q: How important was playing in the 4-3?
A: It was really important. There’s a lot of schools that are starting to get into the 3-4. But it’s such a contrast to the 4-3. And to me, Delvon’s God-given ability is his athleticism and his ability to get off the ball and be disruptive. And that doesn’t lend itself to playing in that kind of scheme.
We really were limited in the end to just a couple schools that ran a real 4-3, and that was USC and North Carolina. And that’s something that was important to Delvon, to have that opportunity to be a three-technique defensive tackle and do what he feels most comfortable doing.

Q: What’s he like as a kid?
A: He’s a great kid. He’s very engaging. He’s got an incredible personality, a laugh and a smile that kind of lights up a room. He’s a very, very fierce competitor, and he’s a kid that’s very easy to like. I think he’ll be well liked by his teammates. I think he’ll be popular among his teammates. And just overall has an outstanding personality. I think North Carolina is going to be really excited to get him.

Q: Physically, what are his assets? You mentioned his athleticism.
A: He’s a little over 6-feet-5. He’s about 275 pounds. He’s got a frame in which he’s probably going to grow to about 300 pounds, or maybe a couple pounds more. Very long arms. Very explosive. And just is a kid that when you see him and you see him at 275, you think he’s probably 250 until you put him on the scale. That’s the kind of size that he has.

Ken Tysiac

Anson County's Anthony picks Clemson

Stephone Anthony, who entered the day as the top uncommitted prospect in North Carolina, added to an outstanding Clemson recruiting class late this morning when he signed with the Tigers.

Anthony, a 6-foot-2, 220-pound linebacker from Anson County High in Wadesboro, N.C., also was considering North Carolina, Florida and Virginia Tech. He is rated the No. 2 player in North Carolina by The Charlotte Observer.

Clemson and coach Dabo Swinney entered the day with a top-25 class, and added five-star linebackers in Anthony and Tony Steward of Jacksonville, Fla., who had also been considering Florida State.

Anthony's signing, announced at a news conference at his school, means that the top six prospects in North Carolina all are leaving the state.

Ken Tysiac

DL commitment huge for UNC recruiting analyst Miller Safrit said the signing of McKeesport (Pa.) High defensive lineman Delvon Simmons, announced minutes ago, is an impressive accomplishment for North Carolina's coaching staff. is among the outlets reporting Simmons' commitment.

"It definitely puts a big stamp of approval, a big cherry on top of the class for this North Carolina class that a lot of people were wondering about," Safrit said.

Safrit was impressed because Simmons never took an official visit to North Carolina and made only an unofficial visit in June. He also said the Tar Heels' 4-3 scheme might have played a role.

Ken Tysiac

Raines High has news for UNC, Pack

According to the Florida Times-Union's live signing day blog, Raines High in Jacksonville, Fla., has news for North Carolina and N.C. State fans.

Sam Smiley, a 6-foot, 170-pound cornerback at Raines, has committed to North Carolina. He's rated a two-star prospect by North Carolina's official web site reported that his letter of intent arrived at 11:01 a.m.

Chris Jones, a defensive tackle who committed to N.C. State last week, will not sign with the Wolfpack, according to the Times-Union. He will sign with Illinois.

Jones is a three-star prospect.

Ken Tysiac

Early look at UNC, Pack signees

A flurry of early-morning letters of intent have hit the fax machines at North Carolina and N.C. State, and so far the only surprises are a pair of two-star linebackers.

North Carolina added Keeon Virgile of North Miami Beach, and N.C. State signed Michael Peek of Loganville, Ga.

There’s still more drama to come on signing day, but here’s an early look at the letters of intent received by North Carolina and N.C. State, as reported by the schools’ official websites:

Travis Riley, RB, Kannapolis, N.C.
T.J. Thorpe, WR, Durham
Landon Turner, OL, Harrisonburg, Va.
Marquise Williams, QB, Charlotte
Sylvester Williams, DL, Jefferson City, Mo.
Miller Snyder, PK, Charlotte
Tyler Alberts, ATH, Clemmons, N.C.
Alex Dixon, DB, Clearwater, Fla.
Norkeithus Otis, LB, Gastonia
Jarrod James, OL, Goldsboro
Travis Hughes, LB, Virginia Beach
Kameron Jackson, DB, Madison, Ala.
Romar Morris, ATH, Salisbury
Darien Rankin, DB, Salisbury
Devonte Brown, DT, Fayetteville, N.C.
Eric Ebron, TE, Greensboro
Tim Scott, DB, Fredericksburg, Va.
Brandon Ellerbe, DB, Wadesboro, N.C.
Shawn Underwood, DT, Fuquay-Varina
Keeon Virgile, LB, North Miami Beach
Kiaro Holts, OL, Indianapolis

*McKay Frandsen, DE
Brian Taylor, QB  - (7:22 a.m.)
Benson Browne, TE - (7:55 a.m.)
Tyrrell Burriss, DB - (8:08 a.m.)
Michael Peek, LB - (8:11 a.m.)
Alex Barr, OL - (8:24 a.m.)
Wil Baumann, P - (8:39 a.m.)
Brandon Pittman, LB - (8:39 a.m.)
Mike Rose, DE - (8:48 a.m.)
Hakim Jones, DB - (9:04 a.m.)
Hakeem Flowers, WR - (9:33 a.m.)
Dave Mann, DE - (9:44 a.m.)

*Enrolled at NC State for the 2011 spring semester

Ken Tysiac

Big-time Florida linebacker picks Clemson

Jacksonville linebacker Tony Steward, long considered a lock for Florida State, will sign with Clemson, according to The Florida Times-Union.

You can also read Observer columnist Scott Fowler's blog from ESPNU on the Steward shocker here, including an Urban Meyer anecdote about a time he thought he had a Florida player locked up only to see that player sign with Clemson.

Ardrey Kell's Justus Pickett will wait, visit more schools

Ardrey Kell running back Justus Pickett, the Observer's No. 19 recruit in North Carolina, will not sign today, Knights coach Adam Hastings said.

Pickett visited Arkansas last week and will visit Maryland this weekend.

"He's still trying to figure it out," Hastings said. "We have until April 2 but I think this time next week he'll have an idea of where he's at."

Hastings said Pickett will choose between Maryland, Arkansas, Ball State and West Virginia.

A first-team All Charlotte Observer pick, Pickett rushed for 2,429 yards and 31 touchdowns last season. That was the third-most yards ever in one season by a Mecklenburg County back and the ninth-most touchdowns. Pickett was his conference (Southwestern 4A) offensive player of the year and made several all-state teams.

-- Langston Wertz Jr.

Asheville's Pagan picks Alabama

One of the more unusual Internet offerings on national signing day is the live camera trained on the fax machine where letters of intent are coming in at the Alabama football office.

As faxes come in, a plate showing the last name of the player who signed is affixed to the fax machine. The name "Pagan" has been placed on the machine.

That would be Jeoffrey Pagan of Asheville. The No. 4 player in North Carolina according to The Charlotte Observer's rankings, Pagan originally had committed to Clemson and also was on Georgia's radar.

He is a 6-foot-3, 260-pound defensive end, and adds to the expected exodus from North Carolina as at least five of the top six prospects in the state are scheduled to leave.

Ken Tysiac

UNC adds linebacker to class

Add linebacker Keeon Virgile to North Carolina's signing class.

The Tar Heels have received a signed letter of intent from Virgile, who's 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds and from North Miami Beach High in Florida, according to the school's official website. rates Virgile as a two-star recruit. An in-state linebacker, five-star prospect Stephone Anthony of Anson County High in Wadesboro, also is considering North Carolina (along with Clemson, Florida and Virginia Tech) on signing day.

Ken Tysiac

N.C. State lands two-star linebacker.

A late push has helped N.C. State land linebacker Michael Peek on signing day.

Peek, who's 6-foot-2 and 215 pounds and is from Grayson High in Loganville, Ga., previously had committed to Navy.

N.C. State announced this morning on its web site that it has received a signed letter of intent from Peek, who's rated a two-star prospect by

Ken Tysiac

College football signing day links

-- Here's a link to a live blog covering N.C. State recruiting developments today. It's at the Pack Pride website.

-- Confirmed letters of intent for South Carolina, a free link from pay site

-- Live chat covering national developments from the editors of

Virginia Tech loses QB recruit to Vanderbilt

According to the Virginian Pilot in Norfolk, it appears Lafonte Thourogood, a Virginia Beach-area quarterback who had committed to Virginia Tech, will sign instead with Vanderbilt. Signing-day switches like this always create drama for fanbases and headaches for coaches.

Follow college football signing day LIVE

Follow signing day live as college football stars of tomorrow make their commitments official today by signing their national letters of intent. Ken Tysiac and Langston Wertz Jr. will update you on developments locally and for schools in the Carolinas and nationally.

Ken will also be chatting live from noon to 1 p.m. Watch for the link at, where Ken will be updating all of the day's action and answering your questions about recruiting.

We also have Scott Fowler at ESPNU's Charlotte headquarters, following along with their 10 hours of national coverage. He'll be blogging at his Scott Says blog

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Juco running back picks Heels

North Carolina added a running back to its 2011 class today, one day before national signing day.

Stephen Houston, an honorable mention junior college All-American at Independence Community College in Kansas, has committed to the Tar Heels.

Houston is 5-foot-10 and 220 pounds and originally signed with Mississippi out of Lakota West High in West Chester, Ohio.

“He’s a big, strong runner and he’s got speed for a big guy,” said Independence coach Steve Carson.

Houston fills a positional need for North Carolina after running back Savon Huggins of Jersey City, N.J., committed to Rutgers on Friday.

Larry Cox, who coached Houston at Lakota West, measured him with a 33-inch vertical leap and a 10-foot, 3-inch standing long jump in high school. He said that after Houston did not qualify academically for his scholarship at Mississippi, he spent his first year of junior college redshirting and concentrating on his school work.

Houston played just one year of junior college football and has three years of eligibility remaining.

“They expect him to be able to have an impact,” Cox said, “and they expect him to be able to play for three years.”

Ken Tysiac

Monday, January 31, 2011

Cornerback picks N.C. State for 2012

Two days before signing day in 2011, cornerback Niles Clark has reserved an early spot in N.C. State's 2012 recruiting class by committing to the Wolfpack.

Clark, who's 5-foot-11 and 165 pounds, is a three-year starter who was a teammate of current N.C. State starting center Camden Wentz at Lassiter High in Marietta, Ga.

"Camden kind of did a little recruiting there because Camden has had a good experience at the school," said Lassiter coach Jep Irwin.

Irwin said Clark wasn't inclined to court attention and go through the recruiting process throughout his senior season. Georgia Tech and Wake Forest had shown interest in Clark, but Irwin said that what Clark really wanted was a scholarship offer from N.C. State.

When the offer came, he accepted it. Last season Clark intercepted three passes, returning one for a touchdown; made 53 tackles; and blocked six extra points or field goals.

"He's very athletic," Irwin said. "He has good size for a corner and tremendous technique."

Ken Tysiac

Pack adds DT commitment

Ty McGill, a 6-foot-1, 275-pound defensive tackle from Jessup, Ga., has become the latest member of N.C. State's 2011 recruiting class as coach Tom O'Brien is making a strong finishing push with signing day approaching Wednesday.

McGill is the fourth three-star player to commit to N.C. State in the last eight days; the others are wide receiver Hakeem Flowers of Greenville, S.C.; defensive tackle Chris Jones of Jacksonville, Fla., and tight end Benson Browne of Cincinnati.

-- Ken Tysiac

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Former Duke commit headed to S.C. State

West Charlotte running back Jalen Simmons, who had been committed to Duke, said this afternoon that he will attend South Carolina State instead.

"I'd like to thank them [Duke] for giving me a chance to play for them," Simmons said. "Things just didn't work out."

Simmons is rated as a three-star prospect by His teammate from West Charlotte, linebacker Britton Grier, remains committed to the Blue Devils.

At S.C. State, Simmons said, he hopes to have an opportunity for immediate playing time.

"It's a family down there, with great coaches," he said, "and I feel like I can do great things."

Ken Tysiac

Pack nudges forward in recruiting rankings

With three commitments since Sunday, N.C. State has climbed out of last place in the ACC in one of the major recruiting rankings.

Tight end Benson Browne’s coach at Walnut Hills (Ohio) High, George Kontsis, confirmed this morning that Browne has committed to the Wolfpack. That moved N.C. State past Wake Forest into 11th place in the ACC in’s rankings for the Class of 2011. has N.C. State at No. 63 overall, one spot ahead of Wake Forest.

The Wolfpack remains last in the ACC in the rankings.

Since Sunday, N.C. State has received commitments from Browne, defensive tackle Chris Jones of Raines High in Jacksonville, Fla., and wide receiver Hakeem Flowers of Wade Hampton High in Greenville, S.C.

N.C. State coach Tom O’Brien has often said he doesn’t pay much attention to recruiting rankings because he doesn’t believe analysts can predict how a given player will fit into a particular school’s system.

“One thing I’ve learned about Tom O’Brien in his decade at Boston College is, you can’t go based on recruiting rankings or stars next to a kid’s name with O’Brien and his staff,” analyst Mike Farrell said last week.

N.C.State still is ranked far behind rival North Carolina, whose class is rated No. 18 in the nation and No. 3 in the ACC by Duke is rated 10th in the ACC by

Ken Tysiac

O'Brien uses Cincinnati ties to land tight end

Coach Tom O’Brien’s background in Cincinnati has paid off in a commitment from Walnut Hills High tight end Benson Browne.

Walnut Hills coach George Kontsis said O’Brien, offensive coordinator Dana Bible, tight ends coach Jim Bridge and offensive line coach Don Horton all met with Browne at some point.

O’Brien, Bible and Horton all are from Cincinnati.

“That carried a lot of weight,” Kontsis said. “I think it does, and Benson thinks it does."

Browne is 6-foot-6 and 248 pounds and has been a basketball player his whole life. He has played football for just two seasons, but still received 10 scholarship offers, Kontsis said.

Although Browne didn’t catch many passes this season, Kontsis said he has excellent receiving skills.

“He’s about as athletic as you can be,” Kontsis said. “He’ll catch anything.”

Browne, who’s 6-foot-6 and 248 pounds, also considered Louisville and Illinois. Kontsis said Browne was comfortable with N.C. State because of its pro-style offense that features the tight end and because Browne will be the only player at that position in this class.

N.C. State returns two-time All-ACC tight end George Bryan, who will be a senior in 2011, and Kontsis expects Browne to redshirt because he needs more time to learn the game after just two years of experience.

Ken Tysiac

Florida DT chooses N.C. State

N.C. State’s early interest in Chris Jones has paid off with a commitment from the Jacksonville (Fla.) Raines High defensive tackle.

“They came in early and stayed on him through thick and thin,” said Raines coach Deran Wiley, who said Jones also considered North Carolina, Illinois and Iowa State.

That contrasts with the Wolfpack’s success gaining other recruits this month. N.C. State recruited well late in the process to gain commitments from kicker Niklas Sade of Wakefield High, safety Rodman Noel of Milford Academy in New Berlin, N.Y., and wide receiver Hakeem Flowers of Wade Hampton High in Greenville, S.C.

All three had previously committed – Sade to Nebraska, Noel to Maryland and Flowers to Michigan. Noel and Flowers changed their minds after the coaches at their initial chosen schools were fired.

Jones, the latest recruit, is 6-foot-5 and 285 pounds.

“He’s a big kid, a hard-working kid, a good student of the game,” Wiley said. “. . .He has all the tools.”

Jones is the first commitment in the current N.C. State class from Florida. The Wolfpack still ranks last in the ACC ratings for the Class of 2011 on recruiting sites and

Ken Tysiac

Monday, January 24, 2011

Late push lands Flowers for Pack

Hakeem Flowers, a highly rated wide receiver from Wade Hampton High in Greenville, S.C., secretly made a commitment to Michigan that never came to fruition.

Flowers held off on his announcement because he wanted to do it in the presence of his teammates at Wade Hampton's banquet Sunday, according to Wade Hampton coach Kent Haltiwanger. But between the time of the pledge to Michigan and the banquet, the Wolverines fired coach Rich Rodriguez.

The new Michigan staff under Brady Hoke couldn't gain traction with Flowers, and N.C. State swooped in late and secured the commitment, which finally was announced at the appointed time, at the banquet Sunday night.

In a telephone interview Monday, Haltiwanger explained what happened. He said three of Rodriguez's assistants from Michigan were hired at Pittsburgh, which came after Flowers hard.

Notre Dame also pushed hard to get Flowers to visit over the weekend. But Flowers visited N.C. State on the weekend of Jan. 15 and developed a good rapport with the Wolfpack's coaches and players.

Last week, N.C. State coach Tom O'Brien visited Flowers at Wade Hampton, meeting with him for an hour, Haltiwanger said.

"They really put the foot on the gas pedal as far as recruiting him," Haltiwanger said.

UCLA, Oregon, Michigan, LSU, N.C. State and Notre Dame were the finalists for Flowers' services. He is 6-foot-3 and about 195 pounds, and ranked the No. 24 player in South Carolina by

He made 41 catches for 986 yards and 12 touchdowns last season, with 31 rushes for 411 yards and four scores.

"He has huge hands, long arms," Haltiwanger said. "He's probably suited to be an outside receiver, but he can play inside as well."
Flowers will give N.C. State a boost as the team's first commitment at a position that lost senior standouts Owen Spencer, Jarvis Williams and Darrell Davis from last season.

Ken Tysiac

Pack gets commitment at key position

N.C. State has received a commitment at a position of vital need in the 2011 class.

Hakeem Flowers, a 6-foot-2, 173-pound wide receiver from Wade Hampton High in Greenville, S.C., has committed to the Wolfpack, Wade Hampton coach Kent Haltiwanger confirmed.
Flowers is No. 24 overall in the rankings for South Carolina prospects. He joins a team that needs to replenish its talent at wide receiver.
The Wolfpack is losing seniors Owen Spencer, Jarvis Williams and Darrell Davis off the 2010 team. They combined for 138 of N.C. State's 319 receptions and 1,952 of the team's 3,655 receiving yards last season.

Ken Tysiac

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Former Maryland commit picks N.C. State

Rodman Noel, a safety from Milford Academy in New Berlin, N.Y., who formerly was committed to Maryland, has committed to N.C. State.

Noel is 6-foot-4 and 205 pounds and intercepted four passes as a postgraduate player for Milford last season, according to the school's web site. Milford coach Bill Chaplick said Noel has great football sense and was one of the best defensive players on a team that finished 11-1.

At times, when Milford's smaller cornerbacks struggled against taller receivers, Noel would move to corner and shut down the big wideouts in pass coverage, Chaplick said.

"He's a physical specimen," Chaplick said. "He should be a great player for [N.C. State]."

Noel had committed to Maryland before the firing of coach Ralph Friedgen. Chaplick said Noel withdrew his commitment after Kevin Lempa, who had been coaching safeties for the Terrapins, was not retained by new head coach Randy Edsall.

Ken Tysiac