Joe Jackson Stays Home; Virginia & LSU Land Top Recruits
A look back at the major commitments of the past week.
by Franklyn Calle
The University of Memphis began the weekend taking the good with the bad. On the same day that the Tigers received the bad news that sophomore forward Angel Garcia will have to miss the entire season after tearing his ACL, head coach Josh Pastner received great news when five-star point guard Joe Jackson verbally committed to the program. Jackson, a Memphis native, chose Memphis over Kansas and Tennessee. The 5-11 guard is one of top players in the nation and as you may remember, he did his thing at the Reebok All-American Camp in Philly, quickly becoming my favorite player while I was out there. The future looks bright for the Tigers as Jackson will join blue-chipper Will Barton in next year’s incoming freshmen class. Barton, a 6-6 senior guard at Brewster Academy, is considered by many as the top shooting guard in the class of 2010. Will’s brother, Antonio Barton, has also verbally committed to suiting up for the Tigers next season. Antonio will be doing his senior year at Notre Dame Prep.
“I’ve been knowing this since my ninth-grade year,” Joe Jackson told the Memphis Commercial Appeal. “I’ve just been holding back. But now I’m ready.
“We’re going to be the greatest backcourt to come through Memphis I think,” he said. “Will is a great player. He can create a lot of opportunities for me and other teammates so we’ll be good.”
You have to admit it, first-year coach Josh Pastner is doing a great picking up from where John Calipari left off- as far as recruiting goes. I definitely saw Pastner being successful at Memphis but just not this soon. His first recruiting class is shaping up to be a special one.
Virginia also received big news this past weekend when senior forward James Johnson verbally committed to the program. The 6-9 big man from Elsinore H.S. in California made the decision on Sunday after visiting the school campus over the weekend. He had scheduled visits to Oklahoma and Arizona but felt there was no need to prolong his recruiting after spending time in Charlottesville.
“He just seemed to really hit it off with the coaches from the very beginning,” Ted Johnson, James’ father, told the Charlottesville Daily Progress. “Being back on campus this weekend just really sealed the deal.”
First year coach Tony Bennet is also getting off to a great start. His first recruiting class has some serious ballers. Aside from Johnson, the Cavaliers will be welcoming guards K.T. Harrell and Joe Harris as well as forward Will Regan, as part of next year’s recruiting class.
Second year coach Trent Johnson hosted Ralston Turner on campus during the weekend and it didn’t take long for Johnson to hear back from the Muscle Shoals H.S. standout. Turner, a 6-6 wing, gave Johnson a call on Monday letting him know of his intentions to play for LSU. “I went down there last weekend, went to the football game, met with the staff,” Turner told the Times Daily. “It felt like it was the right way to go. I felt like coach Johnson had my best interest in mind when I went down there. I felt close to all the coaches that recruited me, but especially coach Johnson.” He recently visited Notre Dame and had planned to visit Georgia and Butler in the future. As part of the Tigers’ 2010 recruiting class, Turner will join Matt Derenbecker – a 6-7 small forward from Metairie Park Country Day School in Louisiana, and Jalen Courtney- a 6-8 power forward from Provine H.S. in Mississippi.
Just as Pastner and Bennet are at their respective schools, first year coach Kevin O’Neill is working hard in the recruiting scene. Last Thursday, the Trojans received their fourth verbal commitment for the recruiting class of 2010 after senior forward Garret Jackson joined in. The 6-6 Oregon native picked the Trojans over a long list of schools, which included Washington, Washington State, Oregon State and UTEP, among others.
“They were on my mind. They were recruiting me during the season, but they really liked the improvement they saw from me during the summer,” Jackson told The Oregonian. “While there were other schools recruiting me, USC was the program that came at me the hardest and made me feel like they wanted me the most.”
The other three recruits that he will be joining are Bryce Jones- a 6-5 shooting guard from William Howard Taft H.S in California, Dwayne Poole- a 6-7 small forward from Westchester in California, and Curtis Washington- a 6-9 power forward from Elizabethtown H.S. in Kentucky.
Keala King, a rising senior at national powerhouse Mater Dei, verbally committed to Arizona State on Wednesday night. The 6-5 shooting guard transferred in from Compton Dominguez. Other reports have it that he committed during an in-home visit from the Sun Devils head coach Herb Sendek. Cory Hawkins, a 6-3 shooting guard from Estrella Foothills H.S. in Arizona, has also given Arizona State a verbal commitment for next year.
DeMatha standout, Jerian Grant, verbally committed to Notre Dame last Wednesday after visiting the campus during the weekend. The 6-5 wing was also considering Providence and DePaul. “I’m happy I’ve finally found a home,” Grant told the Tribune. “It feels good to get it over with.” Grant averaged 7.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 5.0 assists during his junior season. His older brother Jerai plays at Clemson. Aside from Grant, the Fighting Irish have also received verbal commitments from Eric Atkins- a 6-1 point guard from Mount St. Joseph’s H.S. in Maryland and Alex Dragicevich- a 6-6 shooting guard from Glenbrook North H.S. in Illinois, in their recruiting class of 2010.