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Senior centers have talent, depth

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Latest: Thursday September 14, 2000 04:24 PM

  Inside Game - Brick Oettinger - Recruiting Watch

In recent contributions, we have focused upon which high school senior hoopsters are on the rise and which ones have had their relative status diminished by their summer performances. Next, we'll look in-depth at the class of 2001 by means of a series of five national positioners, one every two weeks up to the November national signing period

The first positioner will list in order and briefly appraise the top 30 senior centers, based on our current post-summer player rankings. Two weeks from now the best 30 power forwards will be identified, then the small forwards, the wing guards and finally the point guards.

We've said all along that the class of 2001 is a special one that at least offers as much overall talent as any in high school history, with the possible exception of the fabulous class of 1979. That class, veteran fans may recall, featured Ralph Sampson, Isiah Thomas, James Worthy, Dominique Wilkins, Sam Bowie, Clark Kellogg, Terry Cummings, Steve Stipanovich, Antoine Carr, Derrick Hord, Rickey Ross, John Paxson, Thurl Bailey, Dirk Minniefield and many other collegiate and/or NBA stars.

In terms of the quality and depth of talent, the center position is, appropriately enough, the true centerpiece of the class of 2001. Four of the best eight prospects overall in this extra-strong class are potentially super or near-super low-post players. In contrast, only one of the top 28 players in the class of 2000 (current college freshmen) is a genuine center, and that class was definitely not as talented overall as the present high school seniors.

Post-Summer Top 30 Centers
Player  Height  School  Colleges 
1. Eddy Curry
(No. 1 overall)  
6-11  South Holland (Ill.) Thornwood  NBA, DePaul, UConn, Memph., Ill., Ky. 
The next Shaq is highly skilled and carries his 290 pounds very well. 
2. Ousmane Cisse (3)  6-8  Montgomery (Ala.) St. Jude  Louis., UNC, Duke, Ky., Mich., Purd., Ga. Tech, Ga., FSU, UVa., Ark., UCLA 
Native of Mali is super-athletic and absolutely relentless.  
3. Tyson Chandler (6)  7-1  Compton (Calif.) Dominguez  NBA, UCLA, Ariz., Syra., Memph., Fla. 
Slender but extremely mobile, he had a relatively disappointing summer, compared with expectations. 
4. DeSagana Diop (8)  7-0  Mouth of Wilson (Va.) Oak Hill Academy  UVa., UNC, Mich., Fla., Miami, Set. Hall, N. Dame, Ore. 
Senegalese specimen weighs 290 and has a soft shooting touch. 
5. David Harrison (14)  6-11  Nashville (Tenn.) Brentwood Academy  Vandy, Duke, UNC, UCLA, Tenn., Ky., Colo., Louis. 
Son of a Vanderbilt assistant football coach has played inconsistently but obviously has loads of ability. 
6. Robert Whaley (27)  6-10  Benton Harbor (Mich.) High  MISSOURI 
As he has beefed up, he's lost some agility and his game has leveled off. 
7. Jamal Sampson (36)  6-11  Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei  Kans., UConn., Syra., UVa. 
Was slowed by injuries this spring and summer, and his stock has dropped some. 
8. Chris Alexander (42)  7-1  Fitchburg (Mass.) Notre Dame Prep  Fres. St., Ill. St., others 
Fifth-year prep from Illinois has come on fast in the past year. 
9. Tony Key (46)  6-11  Russellville (Ky.) High  So. Cal., Ala., Mich., Tenn., Ky., Fla., Cincy, Louis., others 
280-pound horse has developed power moves that are very hard to defend. 
10. Larry Turner (54)  6-11  Milledgeville (Ga.) Baldwin  Ala., Clem., Ga., Md., N.C. St., Ga. Tech, FSU 
Rebounder/rejector began to upgrade his scoring tools this summer. 
11. Channing Frye (56)  6-11  Phoenix (Ariz.) St. Mary's  ARIZONA 
Laterally quick insider has a big upside but needs strength. 
12. Rob Little (65)  6-9  Fairfax (Va.) Pope Paul VI  Mich., Tenn., Wake For., Stan., Ky., Duke, UNC 
Very aggressive and husky (270 pounds), he's on the rise. 
13. Marcus Campbell (85)  7-0  Albany (Ga.) Westover  N.C. St., UNC Char., FSU, Aub., Tenn., Ga., others 
Lefty with good frame has improved markedly on offense. 
14. Michael Southall (88)  6-10  Chatham (Va.) Hargrave Military Academy  Ga. Tech, Marq., Wisc., N'western, Vandy, Ky., others 
Wisconsin native is a fifth-year prep who was bound for Kentucky this fall until sidetracked by legal problems. 
15. Craig Forth (89)  7-0  East Greenbush (N.Y.) Columbia  SYRACUSE 
Isn't particularly athletic but can score down low. 
16. Jordan Collins (91)  6-10  Hyattsville (Md.) DeMatha  N.C. St., UVa., N. Dame, Md., UCLA, Ky., Ga. Tech, FSU, others 
250-pounder bypassed major summer events to play in D.C. summer league. 
17. Rory O'Neil (95)  6-11  Ridgecrest (Calif.) Burroughs  SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA 
Lacks muscle but is a sweet shooter. 
18. Michael Fey (97)  6-11  Olympia (Wash.) Capital  UCLA 
Southpaw moves well and has advanced rapidly. 
19. Emeka Okafor (106)  6-9  Bellaire (Texas) High  Stan., Ga. Tech, So. Cal., Vandy, Wake For., Xav., UVa., Rice, SMU, others 
Nigerian athlete is intelligent but his game needs some polish. 
20. Jason Carter (110)  6-9  Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman  Villa., Colo., Xav., St. Louis, UCLA, DePaul, UTEP, Tex., UNLV, others 
Strong lefthander performed erratically thus summer but has promise. 
21. Isaiah Fox (112)  6-9  Santa Monica (Calif.) Crossroads  Ariz., UCLA, So. Cal., Cal., Stan., Ore., St. Louis, Mich., Okla., Mich. St. 
Bulky 275-pounder is an interior moose. 
22. Terry Licorish (118)  6-9  Durham (N.C.) Mount Zion Christian Academy  Memph., Syra., others 
Athletic transfer from Toronto ranked among the best three Canadian prospects. 
23. Simplice Njoya (123)  6-11  Homestead (Fla.) Berkshire School?  Colo., Wake For., others 
African shotblocker is reportedly seeking another high school to attend. 
24. Marcus Austin (130)  6-9  Elizabeth (N.J.) St. Patrick  Syra., Villa., UMass, Temp., Xav., FSU, So. Cal., others 
Got injured at the Nike Camp and may be better than he's ranked. 
25. Chris Jackson (135)  7-0  Los Alamos (N.Mex.) High  Utah, Purd., Stan., New Mex., UCLA 
Runs pretty well and has lots of room to improve. 
26. Brian Carter (144)  6-11  Winchendon (Mass.) Winchendon School  TCU, others 
Michigan native signed last season with TCU but didn't qualify academically. 
27. Darryl Jacobs (147)  6-10  Buffalo (N.Y.) Traditional  Syra., UMass, Prov., Clem., Tex., FSU, UNC, others 
His stock plummeted via subpar summer showings. 
28. Chris Charles (150)  7-0  Milford (Conn.) Milford Academy or Mercersburg (Pa.) Mercersburg Academy  Md., Villa., Ga. Tech, UNLV, Wisc., UVa., So. Cal., others 
Leg injury prevented reed-thin Milwaukee native from playing in games at the Nike Camp. 
29. Chris Wright (158)  6-10  Redwater (Texas) High  TEXAS 
Reputed athlete couldn't play last season due to transfer rules in Texas. 
30. Chad Bell (162)  6-11  Los Angeles (Cal.) Westchester  Mich., UNC, Kans., Okla., Ky., Villa., UCLA, Ore., So. Cal., New Mex., Memph. 
Lanky but raw low post must add scoring tools and strength to become a big-time factor. 

Regional Notes

Again, our focus will be on recent verbal commitments by prepsters, late signings by 2000-01 collegians, and collegiate transfers announced during the past two weeks.


  • 6-8 Durham (N.C.) Emanuel Christian Academy senior PF/SF Harvey Thomas (ranked No. 28 overall) verbally committed to Georgetown over Maryland, West Virginia, UCLA and others. N.C. State backed off when Thomas decided to attend a new school, Emanuel Academy, whose accreditation reportedly is in question. Its only students will be basketball players, who apparently will be home-schooled in Durham.

  • 6-0 former Washington (D.C.) St. John's PG Luke Martin didn't enroll at Georgetown after all, even though he had signed this spring with the Hoyas. To compensate, ex- Burke (Va.) Lake Braddock 6-4 WG RaMell Ross, who had been expected to attend Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy in 2000-01 as a fifth-year prep and then matriculate at Georgetown, is already in college taking classes.

  • 6-2 Marion (Mass.) Tabor Academy senior PG/WG Jermaine Watson (No. 126) committed to Boston College over Georgia Tech, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Miami, Rhode Island, Georgia and others.

  • Both 6-6 Greenbelt (Md.) Eleanor Roosevelt senior SF/WG Eddie Basden (No. 72) and 6-2 WG/PG Jeremiah King (unranked in top 200), who is transferring to Winchendon (Mass.) Winchendon School from Paterson (N.J.) Catholic, announced commitments to Massachusetts. Basden was receiving serious interest from Georgia Tech, Villanova, Georgetown, Rutgers, George Washington, Maryland, Seton Hall, Virginia Tech and others. Involved with King were Villanova, St. Joseph's, Tulsa, Dayton, Duquesne and Fordham.

  • 6-9 SF/PF Garnett Thompson, who excelled in a Long Island summer league, has committed to Providence. He plans to sit out this coming season at Suffolk (N.Y.) Community College and enroll at Providence in the fall of 2001 with three remaining seasons of eligibility. He was also sought by Fresno State, Iona and Hofstra.

  • 5-10 Kensington (Md.) Newport School senior PG T.J. Thompson (unranked in top 200) committed to George Washington over Xavier, American and others.

  • 6-8 sophomore PF Leland Anderson is transferring to Providence from Michigan. He's a Massachusetts native.

  • 6-10 former Monroe (N.Y.) Community College C Ramel Allen, who signed this spring with LaSalle, did not gain admission to school and thus will not be playing for the Explorers.


  • 6-8 blue-chip Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy PF/C Jason Parker (No. 6 in the Class of 2000) is attending classes at Kentucky after he was released from his national letter of intent by North Carolina, which denied him admission due to questions concerning his reported 45% improvement on standardized tests and inability to reach 820 on a subsequent, specially administered SAT this summer.

  • Kentucky also gained a verbal commitment from 6-5 Bowling Green (Ky.) High senior WG/SF Josh Carrier (No. 92), son of former ABA three-point marksman Darel Carrier of the Kentucky Colonels. Carrier was hearing from UCLA, UNC, Louisville, Georgia, Georgia Tech, N.C. State, Stanford and Tennessee.

  • 6-8 lefty PF Marco Killingsworth (No. 57), a senior transfer to Durham (N.C.) Emanuel Christian Academy from Dothan (Ala.) Christian Academy, verbally committed to Auburn over LSU and Florida. He also was courted by Cincinnati, Alabama, Kansas, DePaul, Connecticut and Georgia Tech.

  • 6-1 Oxon Hill (Md.) High senior PG Lamar Butler (unranked in top 200) committed to George Mason over Xavier, Richmond and Dayton.

  • Reports that 6-8 Kilgore (Texas) Junior College sophomore SF/PF Thomas Davis and 6-9 Lee (Texas) JC soph C/PF Shawnson Johnson have both verbally committed to Louisiana State are apparently at least premature, say their coaches. Davis is also considering Memphis, Arkansas, Louisville and Auburn, while LSU leads Memphis, Texas A&M, UNLV and Arkansas for Johnson.

  • Vanderbilt has gained a very early verbal commitment from 5-11 Antioch (Tenn.) High junior PG Mario Moore, who averaged 15 points and five assists last season as 30-5 Antioch reached the state tournament quarterfinals.

  • Wake Forest has also gotten a very early verbal commitment from a junior, 6-5 Mount Airy (N.C.) High SF/WG Richard Joyce.


  • 6-5 senior SF Duane John (No. 37), who reportedly may be transferring this season from Toronto Boylan to Homestead (Fla.) Berkshire School, has chosen Missouri as his collegiate destination over Syracuse, Louisville, Iowa, Maryland and Marquette.

  • 6-4 Mansfield (Texas) High senior WG/SF Nick Williams (unranked) verbally committed to Kansas State over Rice, SMU and Southern California.

  • 6-9 Indianapolis (Ind.) Warren Central senior C/PF Will Caudle (unranked) committed to Xavier over Iowa and Purdue. He also attracted interest from Indiana, Michigan, Syracuse, Arizona and others. Caudle averaged 14 points, 10 rebounds and two blocked shots while shooting 57 percent from the field last season.

  • 6-2 Mount Zion (Ill.) High senior PG/WG Matt McCollom (unranked), who played well this summer for the Illinois Warriors club team, committed to Ball State.

  • A late signee by Wisconsin for the 2000-01 season is 6-4 sophomore WG Rickey Bower, who played one season at a junior college and then was in Poland on a Mormon mission the past two years.

  • A late signee by Ohio University for the 2000-01 season is 6-8 PF/SF Kevin Shorter (unranked in the Class of 2000) from Clinton Township (Mich.) Chippewa Valley.


  • 6-3 Sugar Land (Texas) Willowridge senior WG Kenny Taylor, whose reliable three-point shooting helped Willowridge to the Class 5-A state title and a No. 1 national ranking by USA Today, verbally committed to Baylor over Oklahoma, Seton Hall, Florida State, Louisville and others.


  • 6-4 San Diego St. Augustine senior WG Eric Osmundson (No. 200) verbally committed to Utah over Princeton, Yale, St. Joseph's and San Diego.

  • 6-7 sophomore SF Jerry Dupree, who will sit out the 2000-01 season at San Bernardino Valley (Calif.) Junior College after transferring from the College of Southern Idaho, has committed to Southern California. He'll have three seasons of eligibility for the Trojans.

  • 7-0 Yreka (Calif.) Union senior C Matt Short (unranked) committed to Oregon after attracting attention from Arizona State, New Mexico, Washington State, San Diego State, Gonzaga and others.

  • 5-11 Oakland St. Elizabeth senior PG Bakari Altheimer (unranked) committed to Santa Clara.

  • A late signee by Washington State for the 2000-01 season is 6-2 former Los Angeles Crenshaw PG/WG E.J. Harris (No. 177 in the Class of 2000), who had signed with Kansas State but was released by the Wildcats after coach Tom Asbury was fired.

    Brick Oettinger is talent evaluator for the Prep Stars Recruiter's Handbook and recruiting columnist for the ACC Area Sports Journal. For more information on either publication, call 1-800-447-7667.

    Related information
    Recruiting Watch with Brick Oettinger Archive
    Brick Oettinger's summer Top 100
    Brick Oettinger's Top 25 Juniors
    Brick Oettinger's Top 25 Sophomores
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