After three years of having a big name in high school basketball and being ranked among the top players in the country, Whitney Young’s Paul White is ready to get down to business.
He stepped up on the AAU circuit this past spring playing for Meanstreets in Nike’s EYBL series of events. White averaged 10.3 points and 7.2 rebounds in 10 EYBL games while shooting 79 percent (26 of 33) from the free-throw line.
He is planning on going out with a bang in his final year at Whitney Young, playing for what will likely be the preseason No. 1 team in the state. White and the Dolphins have lost to Simeon in sectional play each of the past two seasons.
“I want to go out and have a tremendous senior year, both individually and as a team,” says White. “Our seniors are taking this season extremely serious. We don’t want to hold anything back.”
Prior to that senior campaign starting this November, White will have selected his college. He says after thinking long and hard about his options, he’s set on trimming his list in the very near future and zeroing in on a select few.
“I am very close to narrowing down my list to four or five schools, maybe six,” says White, who put together a solid spring on the AAU circuit.
White, like many prospects, is looking for the best fit, both with the style of play and the coaching staff.
“I want to find a system that will best use my talents and showcase what I can do,” the versatile 6-9 White told the Hoops Report. “I want to feel comfortable with the staff, the players and the school. When it’s all said and done, I want to find a place where I’m going to have success.”
A school that has made a big jump in the pecking order is Georgetown, especially with the hire of former Northwestern assistant coach Tavaras Hardy. But there are a surplus of high-major programs hoping to be in the final mix.
The list of 10 schools with mutual interest between the program and White includes Georgetown, Auburn, Arizona, DePaul, Florida, Marquette, Northwestern, Minnesota, Miami-Florida and Connecticut.
Busy week for Cliff Alexander: Funny that a week after a national pundit declared it’s a “consensus” Curie’s Cliff Alexander is down to Michigan State and Kentucky, the big fella was off visiting two other programs — Kansas and Illinois.
While the aforementioned statement set off yet another frenzy among fan bases — and more will surely follow — anyone close to those around the Curie camp know Alexander is far from a final two.
Alexander headed to Lawrence for an unofficial visit this week, which also happens to be the destination of Caelynn Manning-Allen, a very close friend of Alexander. Manning-Allen signed with the Kansas women’s program last fall after a standout career at Curie and was off to Kansas this week for summer school. The 6-4 Manning-Allen averaged 16 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks a game for Curie’s girls basketball team and was an all-state selection.
Those closest to Alexander have repeatedly stated Alexander doesn’t have a top choice yet — or a final two. Proof of that would be the visit to Kansas and his continued interest in Illinois.
Alexander trimmed his list to 10 schools — Kansas, Michigan State, Kentucky, Louisville, Illinois, DePaul, Indiana, Memphis, Baylor and Arizona. Look for both Kansas and Illinois to be in it for the long haul.
High-Major Harris: Sandburg’s Malek Harris solidified himself as a high-major prospect this spring. A surplus of high-major offers have followed. Harris visited Purdue this past week and has visits set for Northwestern (June 27) and Marquette (June 26), a program that has made Harris a priority in its 2014 recruiting class.
O’Mara to play out July: There are very few big men in the state of Illinois — or around the country — so Benet Academy’s Sean O’Mara is a priority. The 6-9 O’Mara still receives new calls from high-major programs around the country in their search for a true post player in the Class of 2014.
O’Mara says he doesn’t have a favorite at this point. He listed several schools who are in the mix, including Xavier, Georgia Tech, Virginia, Loyola, Iowa State, Boston College, Marquette, Seton Hall and Dayton.
“I’m in no rush and I don’t have any visits planned in June,” O’Mara told the Hoops Report when it caught up to the Benet senior at the Joliet West Shootout. “I will play out July and make some visits in August.”
O’Mara averaged 16 points and 8 rebounds a game as a junior, helping lead Benet Academy to an East Suburban Catholic Conference title, 27 wins and a trip to the sectional finals.
Nothing new with Ulis: Although Marian Catholic’s Tyler Ulis has shined on the national camp stage in June and vaulted up national rankings, his recruitment remains at a standstill. The 5-9 point guard recently trimmed his list to seven schools: DePaul, Florida State, Iowa, Michigan State, Northwestern, Purdue and USC.
While many continue to believe Michigan State is the team to beat for Ulis, Iowa has been in on Ulis hard from the start and has certainly put themselves in a good position for the stretch run.
Ulis, however, isn’t planning on taking any visits until August. He continues to focus on playing throughout the month of June, including the recently completed NBA Top 100 Camp and the Deron Williams Point Guard Skills Academy this week.
The other top 2014 point guard: The list of high-level pure point guards in Illinois is short and sweet: Marian Catholic’s Tyler Ulis and Decatur MacArthur’s Marcus Bartley.
Bartley may not be a top 100 player nationally as Ulis has become, but the interest among high-major programs is growing. Bartley, who is also an outstanding student academically, will be watched closely this July while playing with the Peoria Irish on the July AAU circuit.
Northwestern, Oklahoma State, Bradley, Illinois State, William & Mary and Southern Illinois have all offered the talented lead guard. Stanford has been heavily involved and will get a visit from Bartley in August. Purdue, Georgia Tech and Creighton all showing interest.
Hoops Report favorite finally rising: The City/Suburban Hoops Report has made no secret about its feelings towards North Chicago’s JayQuan McCloud, who has been billed as one of those “overlooked” prospects since last December. Thankfully, that’s beginning to change.
McCloud, a smooth scoring 6-2 guard, has elevated his status among college coaches as well this spring and summer. He just returned from a trip to Wright State, which was one of the very first programs in on McCloud.
In addition to the Wright State offer, McCloud has received offers from Loyola, Ball State, Saint Louis, Rhode Island and IPFW. Santa Clara, La Salle, Missouri State, Indiana State and San Jose State are all showing varying amounts of interest.
The unsung and overlooked Donte Thomas: Thornwood’s Donte Thomas will be — and should be — a closely watched prospect this July while he plays out the three “live” evaluation weekends with Meanstreets. The 6-5 versatile Thomas is arguably the biggest under-the-radar prospect in the Class of 2014.
Thomas, who has skyrocketed up the Hoops Report’s Class of 2014 player rankings, was one of the more consistent players for Meanstreets this past spring on the AAU circuit. In Nike EYBL play, Thomas played 20 minutes a game and averaged 8 points and 5 rebounds a game playing with bigger names like Tyler Ulis, Paul White, Vic Law and Charles Matthews.
The perimeter jumper is still a work in progress, but Thomas can post up on the block, handle the ball on the perimeter, plays around the rim, is dynamite as a finisher in the open court and impacts games in a variety of ways with his athleticism and versatility.
Thomas has just two offers at this point, from Kent State and Kennesaw State, while programs at all levels have shown varying amounts of interest. Look for that interest to pick up as he plays out the summer and shows he’s a no-brainer mid-major prospect.
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