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November 16, 2012

Big-name prospects expected to sign


MORE: Conference rankings | 2013 team rankings

The early signing period will be roughly halfway complete by Friday night. The day should be a busy one as four of the nation's top 54 seniors will be making their decisions.

On top of that, the high school travel season gets off to an annual -- albeit unofficial start -- as we'll be in attendance for the National Prep School Invitational in New Haven, Conn.

Off the board

The list of undecided Rivals150 seniors will take a big hit on Friday as at least four prospects ranked in the national top 54 are expected to announce their decisions. There is intrigue with three of them, while one is all but a done deal.

The highest-ranked of the group at No. 16, 6-foot-4 five-star Isaac Hamilton from Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco, will make his pick on Friday afternoon. Hamilton gave a full update to Rivals.com on his recruitment Wednesday night and indicated that Baylor, San Diego State, UCLA, UNLV and UTEP were his final five.

More than likely, the decision will come from among the three four-letter schools beginning with U. Of that group, it's too close to call coming down the stretch.

A choice of either UCLA or UNLV would put the Bruins or Rebels into top 10 contention in the 2013 team rankings.

Next up in the rankings is No. 32 Tyler Roberson. The 6-foot-8 senior at Roselle (N.J.) Catholic has done an incredible job of keeping his intentions quiet while trying to pick between Kansas, Syracuse and Villanova.

Over the past week or so, sources close to the recruitment have called it to each of those three programs, but headed into the decision day the needle seems to be moving ever so slightly in the direction of Syracuse. If he picked the Orange, they would move into at least the national top 15 of the team rankings. A pick of Villanova would move the Tigers from just outside the national top 30 into the top 20 range, while a choice of Kansas would only cement the Jayhawks hold of the No. 2 spot.

Ranked No. 49 nationally, there's not much suspense about the program BeeJay Anya will be choosing. Barring a major surprise, the four-star center will be picking N.C. State. Once he's on board, Mark Gottfried's class will contend for the national Top 10.

Finally, North Carolina center Kennedy Meeks, who ranks No. 54 nationally, will make his decision. The 6-foot-9 post has been trying to decide between North Carolina and Georgetown for some time now and like Hamilton and Roberson, he'll announce his decision on ESPN. This is a classic battle of a school that plays a style that is a better fit for his game (Georgetown) trying to knock off the home state power (UNC).

Prep tournament

The National Prep Showcase has served as the unofficial opening to the high school basketball season for several years now. Featuring most of the top prep schools from New England and the East Coast, here's a few of the story lines and players we'll be focused on this weekend. Now that Noah Vonleh has made the move to the class of 2013 and committed to Indiana, how will the five-star prospect look? Has he added any new wrinkles to his game? Will he continue to float towards the perimeter as he started to do during the summer or will he go back to more of the inside/out game that put him on the map in the first place?

Just how good is the Massanutten Military Academy backcourt of Kansas signee Frank Mason and Miami bound Deandre Burnett? A tough-as-nails point guard, Mason is already ranked in the 2013 Rivals150 and has been putting up good scoring and big assist numbers early in the season. A point guard who can also play off the ball, Burnett has taken his high-scoring ways from his hometown of Miami to prep school with him, where he's been dropping huge scoring numbers on the regular. The duo will get their chance to show what they've got on a national stage.

Another point guard who has been generating a huge buzz with his early play is Louisville signee Terry Rozier. A top-100 player from the class of 2012, the Ohio native has been drawing rave reviews from trusted sources in the mid Atlantic region. It will be good to get another look at the floor general.

Should Wayne Selden be considered a five-star prospect? Given that the Kansas pledge is sitting just outside of five-star status it's a fair question. He can awe at times with his athleticism, physicality, defense and ability to perform in the pick-and-roll. But he can also go quiet for stretches and has been a bit of a streaky jump shooter. Recent word is that he's cleaned up his jump shooting and if that's the case he could be primed to make the jump into five-star status.

Each year, somebody uses the NPSI to break out onto the national stage. So, who does it this year? Headed into the event we're hedging our bets with combo guard Jerron Wilbut of Delafield (Wisc.) St. John's Northwest Military Academy. The Chicago-area native has put up some big numbers early this season and got plenty of high major looks late in his senior year. As a fifth-year guy, he'll get his chance to earn scholarships over the weekend.

Tip-ins

Potentially the No. 1 player in the class of 2015, Karl Towns is scheduled to announce his college decision on Dec. 4. The 6-foot-10 big man from New Jersey is very skilled and is a big-time shooter from deep. He's gotten offers from all over, but Kentucky and Florida have generally been considered the programs with the inside track to land the five-star prospect.

Just a day after indicating that he would be cutting a few schools off of his list, five-star senior Aaron Gordon is down to three. The 6-foot-8 skywalker out of San Jose (Calif.) Archbishop Mitty has eliminated Kansas, Oregon and California and will choose from among Arizona, Washington and Kentucky. Washington has been the presumed leader for some time now, but both of the Wildcats have been making up ground. For now, Gordon still plans to wait a bit before making his choice and he's not likely to sign until the spring.

Oregon lost out on Gordon but did land a pledge from local shooting guard A.J. Lapray. A 6-foot-3 sniper from deep, Lapray is a high-level shooter from deep, an excellent passer and not a bad athlete. He's similar to Michigan freshman Nick Stauskas in many ways, he's just a bit smaller.

Also sneaking one in without a lot of fanfare was USF. Stan Heath and the gang at South Florida landed a commitment from 2013 power forward Dre'Kalo Clayton. A bruising and physical player, Clayton is a little undersized at 6-foot-5, but he's built like an NFL linebacker and is quick off of his feet.

On Wednesday, Brandon Randolph looked to be committed to Xavier. According to sources close to him, he may still be. Regardless, the three-star combo guard from Los Angeles will take an official visit to Missouri this weekend. Could he flip from the Musketeers to the Tigers? We should know by the end of the week.

Kansas State and Oklahoma State both had signing day defections this week. Small forward Alex Etherington broke off his commitment with the Wildcats, while junior college shooting guard Chad Frazier and the Cowboys went their separate ways.



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