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September 13, 2004Football season may be in full force but the basketball recruiting world is still going strong. In this version of Just a Minute with Justin Young, our National Basketball Recruiting Analyst takes a look at the work of the Kansas Jayhawks, the UNLV Running Rebels as well as the comings and goings of the rest of the class of 2005.
BEST IN THE BIZ
Kansas head coach Bill Self is doing a tremendous job bringing blue-chippers to America's heartland. This weekend's surprise commitment of Julian Wright proved the point clearer than any of the recent recruits to commit to the Jayhawks.
Wright is the third five-star recruit to commit to the Big 12 program this season. Micah Downs and Mario Chalmers are the others. The class of 2004, yielded four four-star recruits and a five-star player in Russell Robinson.
Self isn't done either. He's heavily involved with a couple of talented forwards. Calvin Miles and Brandon Costner are in the mix for one final scholarship. Both are instant-impact type of players that would give the Jayhawks one of top recruiting classes, if not the very best in the nation.
Kansas filled all of the needs at every position over the last two years. In today's day and age, getting a full rotation of major recruits is becoming a difficult task. But Self and his staff have done it. Kudos to them.
The biggest recruiting job may still be in the future as Wright could be eyeing the NBA. He has a great skill set for a player of his size (6-foot-8, 214-pounds) and he's still learning how to play on the wing. His performance at the Peach Jam was one of the best individual efforts of the summer as his Illinois Warriors team claimed the coveted title.
UNLV HIGH ROLLIN' IN RECRUITING
As successful as Kansas has been, it's easy to overlook the work going on in Las Vegas.
Lon Kruger didn't waste any time once he got the UNLV job. His efforts, along with the work of his assistants, are paying off. Just look at the recruits that they are bringing to Sin City.
In the last two weeks, the Rebels landed ultra quick Texas point guard Jovan Adams and ultra athletic California forward Davon Jefferson. Both players acknowledged Kruger's time in the NBA as one of the biggest selling points. Adams turned down offers from Arkansas, Oklahoma and Washington to play in the Mountain West. He'll be an instant impact player and will see minutes right away.
Jefferson, who also had offers from a number of Pac-10 schools, decided to play for UNLV after his visit last weekend. He could be the real gem of the class. His athleticism will be difficult to defend in that conference. He has the kind of potential that the conference players of the year generally have.
One of the best recruiting tools UNLV has is the fact the nearly every player comes through Vegas at least once on the AAU circuit. Players have a chance to experience the city life while there, giving the staff more time to work their different angles instead of focusing on the social aspect.
Junior college power forward Gaston Essenque and Utah small forward Joe Darger were the first two recruits to commit. Darger is a good spot up shooter that will be a productive four-year player while Essenque will give the team size and game experience.
The Rebels are back. Bet on that.
Could the recruitment of Richard Hendrix be coming to a close? The elite power forward recently hosted Alabama head coach Mark Gotfried last week for an in-home visit. North Carolina head coach Roy Williams will trip to Athens, Ala., for his pitch on Tuesday.
Hendrix, the fifth rated player in the nation by Rivals.com, has been fielding calls from Alabama commit Alonzo Gee and UNC recruit Tyler Hansbrough, both of whom are trying to recruit the power forward to their respective schools.
The lifelong Alabama native is one of the last of the elite players that remains uncommitted. And he's doing a great job of keeping the suspense alive. While the speculation may run rampant throughout the message boards as well in Tuscaloosa and Chapel Hill, Hendrix isn't showing his hand.
We continue to wait. Maybe not for long, though.
BUSY WEEKEND AHEAD
The Auburn Tigers have a number of scholarship offers to extend for the class of 2005 and the coaching staff has been busy trying to find the best players to fit the team's needs.
This weekend will be the biggest weekend as the team's top target will travel to Auburn for an official visit. Korvotney Barber, perhaps the biggest target for the Tigers will make another trip to the SEC school. The 6-foot-7 dunk machine has unofficially visited the school before unofficially. Florida State, Georgia, Kentucky and Tennessee are also in the mix for his services. Barber is an aggressive athlete that would fit in perfectly in the SEC.
Marcus Johnson will continue his tour of schools as he makes the cross-country trip to Connecticut. The 6-foot-6 wing from Los Angeles visited Louisville last weekend and he's already been to Syracuse, his other favorite, last year. Perhaps his time with the defending National Champions will give him a clearer idea of what to do.
Michigan State has a big weekend ahead as two top Canadian prospects come to East Lansing. Ryan Wright and current recruit Maurice Joseph will all officially visit. Wright is also looking at UCLA and Stanford. Joseph, who is already locked into the Spartans, will try to bring his countryman to MSU with him.