Montrezl Harrell, Devonta Pollard could cause late recruiting shakeup
After backing out of his commitment to Va. Tech, Montrezl Harrell is a top target
Devonta Pollard, the No. 22 prospect in '12, continues to delay his college decision
PF Jarell Martin has attracted attention with his strong play during the spring circuit
Though college basketball recruiting is amid its dead period, that doesn't mean prospects are taking any time off. Plenty of top players continue to stand out, and many should see increased attention once visits and evaluations start again on May 27. Here's a look at the latest headlines in high school and AAU hoops.
One of the more pleasant surprises this spring has been the development of four-star power forward Jarell Martin. In addition to his strong play with New Orleans Elite on the grassroots circuit, Martin has earned rave reviews for his play at various Adidas Nations events. And the Baton Rouge (La.) Madison Prep junior checked in at 6-foot-9 and 223 pounds over the weekend -- drawing the praise of a number of national scouts.
Madison Prep coach Jeff Jones indicated that Martin's work in the weight room has boosted his stock.
"This spring has been great," Jones said. "He's put on some great muscle weight. He's been working with a great strength coach here in Baton Rouge, Gayle Hatch, who used to be the United States Olympic weightlifting coach."
Not only has Martin gotten stronger, but he's also learned to use that power to play more dominantly on the interior.
"He's playing with more power and more as a versatile power forward," said Jones. "He's a lot like Terrence Jones at Kentucky. Last summer he was more on the perimeter, but now he's got a lot more power and efficiency around the basket."
Martin's schedule won't slow down soon. He is expected to attend the Pangos All-American Camp in Long Beach, Calif., the Adidas Nations in Chicago, the NBPA Top 100 Camp in Charlottesville, Va., and the Kevin Durant Skills Academy in Chicago all in June. He's unlikely to take any school visits during the month, though he has indicated that Oklahoma State, Louisville, LSU and Alabama are among his frontrunners.
"[LSU has] turned the heat up and have been making him a priority since coach [Johnny] Jones took the job," said Jeff Jones. "They've done a great job of recruiting him and making themselves relevant."
With Alabama, it's been all about the consistency of coach Anthony Grant.
"Alabama and Anthony Grant have also done a great job of recruiting Jarell," said Jones. "They've probably been the most consistent and have been in to see him as much as possible."
Martin is in no rush to make a decision. Look for him to cut his list to five in July before announcing sometime next year.
"It will be the spring," said Jones. "We aren't going to have time to do very many visits over the summer if we can at all. It's a big decision, and while I'm going to help mentor him, it's his decision and I want him to be able to make the best informed decision he can make. The only way to do that is make visits to schools."
It's hard to blame Virginia Tech for wanting to keep Montrezl Harrell, the No. 82 player in the class of 2012. However, the Rocky Mount, N.C., native wanted to go back on his commitment, and the Hokies did the right thing by letting him out of his letter of intent.
But the sudden availability of such a touted player has sparked a feeding frenzy of attention. Kentucky, Alabama, LSU and Florida are among the plethora of schools now courting the 6-foot-7 power forward.
After spending his senior season at Chatham (Va.) Hargrave Academy, however, only one school has been able to lock down an official visit: Louisville. Rick Pitino's Cardinals look like the definite team to beat.
There are several factors working in the Cardinals' favor. First, assistant Kevin Keatts was the head coach at Hargrave before he accepted a job at Louisville last summer. Second, the Cardinals play a style that fits Harrell perfectly -- and the player and his family hope to make a decision quickly.
Time is also on Pitino's side. Harrell will visit Louisville on May 31 and will head to Colorado Springs, Colo., to try out for USA Basketball's U18 team shortly thereafter. There's not much time to squeeze additional visits in between.
Porterville (Miss.) Kemper County small forward Devonta Pollard, the No. 22 player in the 2012 class, is also scheduled to be in Colorado Springs for USA Basketball's U18 tryouts. Whether the five-star prospect will have made a college decision by then, though, is truly anybody's guess.
As has been the case for some time now, Pollard's inner circle has not released any updates on his recruitment. There hasn't been any information leaked from schools still in contention, and all indications are that Pollard's process is stagnant: even he isn't sure when he'll decide.
As reported earlier, Alabama and Texas remain the favorites. Missouri, Georgetown and LSU are slightly behind.
As summer approaches, one of the more interesting stories is the recruitment of Houston (Texas) St. Thomas Episcopal's Tony Trocha. Currently a four-star prospect in the class of 2013, the 6-foot-10 center has generated a lot of buzz for two reasons: He's registered a series of reportedly tremendous workouts and has a very strong possibility of reclassifying into the class of 2012.
Trocha has the core academics to make the move, requiring just a qualifying SAT score. He took the test at the beginning of May, and his scores are expected back next week. If Trocha attains a qualifying score, look for his recruitment to move quickly -- but not in a typical fashion.
Currently, Trocha remains in his native country of Colombia. He'll have a very limited window to take official visits in the U.S.; he'll have to head back to Colombia for his duties with the national team. But schools haven't been hesitant to reach out. Kentucky, UCLA, Oregon, Providence and Ohio State are among programs that have expressed interest.
Tyrek Coger of Raleigh (N.C.) Upper Room Christian thought his recruitment was finished when he committed to Missouri last summer. Instead, the 6-foot-7 power forward and the Tigers have parted ways. Now, after struggling throughout the winter, the 2013 prospect has had a big spring after getting into better shape. Coger holds offers from Murray State, Ole Miss, Georgia, LaSalle and Towson.
Whether 2013 four-star point guard Stevie Clark reclassifies into the class of 2012 remains undecided. The 5-foot-10 scoring machine from Oklahoma City (Okla.) Douglass is waiting to see who will replace his former high school coach, Terry Long; if it's somebody he's comfortable with, Clark will be back for his senior year. Clark's mother has already indicated that her preference is he stays in the class of 2013. Should he move to 2012, though, Baylor, Florida State, Missouri, Oklahoma, Marquette, Oklahoma State, Stanford and Tulsa will be in the running.
Tulsa snuck a visit from New Orleans (La.) O.P. Walker point guard Rashad Ray shortly before the dead period, and the 5-foot-10 point guard recently gave a commitment. His signing hasn't been announced by the school yet, but it will become official once his paperwork arrives.
Dallas-based Urban DFW Elite will be in New Orleans for an upcoming tournament. Once they're done playing, at least two star players are expected to make a side trip to Baton Rouge to check out LSU. Class of 2013 four-star prospects Jordan Mickey and Karviar Shepherd are expected to visit at the tail end of the Memorial Day weekend, and the nation's No. 35 and No. 44 recruits, respectively, could come as a package deal. Mickey and Shepherd are also high school teammates at Arlington (Texas) Grace Prep.
A native New Yorker and a former member of the class of 2011, Jordan Dickerson plans to begin taking some official visits. The 6-foot-11 center, who has been prepping at Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy, will kick off his visits with a trip to Providence once the current dead period ends. After Providence, Dickerson is expected to visit South Carolina and Auburn, although dates have yet to be finalized. Cincinnati and DePaul also remain in the mix.
One of the more skilled and physical prospects in the class of 2013 is Elkhart (Ind.) Memorial combo guard Markese McGuire. The 6-foot-3 junior has enjoyed a fine spring with Spiece Higher Level and currently holds offers from UIC, Northern Illinois, Evansville, Mercer, Gardner Webb and Valparaiso. Dayton and Davidson are among the programs that have also taken a look.
He may not attract the headlines of some of his Spiece Indy Heat Elite teammates, but Bowling Green (Ohio) High power forward Vitto Brown is making some recruiting noise. A 6-foot-7, 215 pounder, Brown is a fine athlete who rebounds, shows developing touch and can really get up and down the floor. Toledo, Boston, Kent State and Florida Gulf Coast have extended early offers. Ohio initially offered under John Groce, and Illinois has shown some interest since Groce took over. Others showing varying levels of interest: Kansas State, Butler, Minnesota, Miami (OH), Drexel and LaSalle.
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