Last Week in Recruiting
SLAM breaks down the recruiting market for you.
by Franklyn Calle
As the week began, news broke that the Nevada Wolf Pack program had refused to give center Steven Bjornstad a release from his letter of intent, which he had asked for on Wednesday, April 29th. The 6-10 Washington native will appeal the decision to the NCAA National Letter-of-Intent Committee. His assistant high school coach at Columbia River HS, Jim Sevall, told the Reno Gazette Journal that no matter what the outcome from the NCAA is, Bjornstad won’t play for Nevada. “That’s what he indicated to me,” Sevall told the paper. “There’s no way he will ever play for Nevada. He will go to a junior college or sit out a year at a four-year school, but he isn’t going to play for Nevada. He also said he won’t go to another WAC school.”
In April, shooting guard Mark McLaughlin asked for and received his release from his letter of intent from Nevada immediately after coach Mark Fox left to take the coaching job at Georgia. The decision comes in as a surprise as usually programs grant the release of a recruit in the event that a head coaching change occurred.
New York City guard Kevin Parrom committed to the Arizona Wildcats last Sunday while on an official visit to the Tucson campus during the weekend. Parrom had originally committed to Xavier but decided to reopen his recruitment when coach Sean Miller left to take over at Arizona. Xavier assistant, Emanuel “Book” Richardson, soon found himself making the move to Tucson as well, joining Miller’s staff. Parrom’s relationship with Miller and Richardson, a New York City native and formal director of the famed New York Gauchos AAU program, were the key factors for him making the move to Arizona. He told the New York Daily News that he “just felt more comfortable with the staff.” “That’s what it comes down to,” Parrom told the paper. “I had a great relationship with coach Miller.”
Arizona is making a strong push for Lance Stephenson who has decided to get rid of his old college list, which consisted of St. John’s, Kansas and Maryland, and now has a new list which includes Arizona, Memphis and Kentucky. Parrom joins Solomon Hill, a 6-6 forward from Fairfax HS in Los Angeles, and Kyryl Natyazhko, a 6-10 center of IMG academy in FLorida, as part of the Wildcats’ 2009 recruiting class. He spent his senior year at South Kent Prep in Connecticut.
The Longhorns received their second commitment for the 2011 recruiting class when sophomore Sheldon McClellan gave the program a verbal commitment last Monday. McClellan confirmed the decision to the Austin American-Statesman. The 6-5 Texas native guard averaged 18.5 points this past season for Houston Bellaire High School. McClellan is rated among the top sophomore shooting guards in the nation and had offers from Baylor, Penn State and New Mexico, according to ESPN . He joins Myck Kabongo, a 6-2 point guard of St. Benedict’s Prep in Newark, NJ,in the 2011 Longhorns’ recruiting class.
On Wednesday, Mississippi State added 7-1 center, John Riek, to their incoming freshmen class. The Sudan native spent this past year at IMG Academy in Florida.“We’re very excited to have John join our family,” said head coach Rick Stansbury in a news release. “We know we’re taking a chance on a kid who had a very serious injury. But we also know before the injury he was having an exciting career. Now, he’s in the process of getting back to where he was before the knee injury. It’s a slow process, but we’re willing to take a chance on him since he’s such a great kid. Again, he’s nowhere near where he once was as a player, but it’s our job to help him get back to that level that had him going straight to the NBA. That’s our goal.” Riek joins Renardo Sydney,Shaunessy Smith, Wendell Lewis, as part of the Bulldogs’ 2009 recruiting class.
Point guard Justin Jordan committed to St. Louis while on his official visit to the campus last Monday, announced by head coach Rick Majerus on Tuesday. The 6-0 Fort Wayne, Indiana, native was the second leading scorer in the state of Indiana with 27.7 points per game. He is rated as one of the best point guards in the Mid-West. He chose the Bilikens over Butler,Purdue, Cincinnati and Texas Tech among others. “Justin Jordan gives us someone who is a quality young man as evidenced by his willingness to share the ball,” Majerus said in the release. “Although he was the second-highest scorer in the state of Indiana this season, we never questioned his shot selection or his willingness to hit the open man.”
“We want the Billikens to move more toward a three-guard offense, and in doing so, we plan to play two bigs and three men in perimeter spots,” Majerus said. “Justin sees the floor, stretches the D with his three-ball, feeds the post very well although he was not able to play with one in high school, and has an understanding of the game. We are excited about his commitment to basketball. For the first time, since becoming the coach of the Billikens, we have 13 scholarship players with which to work. Our intrasquad scrimmages won’t have to be comprised of coaches. It is our intent to push the ball more on offense, so Justin will provide depth, speed and quickness.”
He will join Christian Salecich-a 6-4 shooting guard of the Australian Institute of Sport in Australia, Jeff Reid-a 6-5 shooting guard of Hayden HS in Kansas, Cory Remekum-a 6-7 forward of Mesquite HS in Texas, Jon Smith-a 6-7 forward of Grover City HS in Ohio, and Cody Ellis-a 6-8 forward also of the Australian Institute of Sport, in the Bilikens’ 2009 recruiting class.
One of the top remaining unsigned point guards in the country, Eric Bledsoe, announced in a press conference on Wednesday his commitment to the Kentucky Wildcats program. He averaged 20.3 points, 9.4 rebounds and 11.5 assists this past season for Parker HS in Birmingham, Alabama. He will join Jon Hood-a 6-6 small forward of Madisonville North Hopkins in Kentucky, DeMarcus Cousin-a center of LeFlore HS in Alabama, and Daniel Orton-a 6-10 center of Bishop McGuinness HS in Oklahoma, as part of the Wildcats’ 2009 recruiting class, also Calipari’s first recruiting class as a member of the Kentucky program.