Friday, May 16, 2008

Former L.A. Standout Alex Stepheson Transfers from North Carolina

By Bruin Basketball Report

North Carolina announced forward/center Alex Stepheson is transferring from the school in order to be closer to his family in California.

"My family is dealing with some health challenges at this time, and as a result I have made the decision to transfer to be closer to home," Stepheson said in a statement issued Friday by the school.

The former Harvard-Westlake standout averaged 3.2 points and 3.4 rebounds in two seasons at Chapel Hill, playing primarily off the bench.

"I am extremely, extremely disappointed, but I feel so great about Alex that I understand his decision to transfer," North Carolina coach Roy Williams said. "He is doing this because of health concerns and by being closer to home he will be able to provide necessary support and help his family needs at this time.

School officials said they have granted Stepheson's request for a release, a move that permits him to contact other programs. UCLA and USC are two schools rumored to be the favorite destination of Stepheson at this time.

The Bruins heavily recruited the 6'9 235 lb Stepheson while he played at Harvard-Westlake in North Hollywood. He is a strong rebounder and excellent low post defender and would fit extremely well into Coach Ben Howland's system.

Its uncertain at this point whether Stepheson would have to sit out a season. Since he is transferring due to the health of his father, he might apply to the NCAA for an exemption, and if granted, it would allow him to play next season without sitting out.

If Stepheson does join the Bruins next season, he'll be joining a potentially very formidable front line which would include; seniors Alfred Aboya, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (if he returns), junior James Keefe, and freshman J'Mison Morgan (if he signs with UCLA).

With both Kevin Love and Russell Westbrook likely jumping to the NBA this summer, UCLA would have two open scholarships for both Morgan and Stepheson next season.

(photo credit: AP)


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Morgan Granted Released From NLI By LSU

By Bruin Basketball Report

South Oak Cliff High School senior J'Mison Morgan was officially granted a release from his national letter of intent with LSU, Tiger head basketball coach Trent Johnson announced today.

Last November Morgan chose LSU over a host of top schools, including UCLA, and signed on with the Tigers. However, Morgan and his family began to waver on the commitment when John Brady was fired as head coach after the season.

Despite numerous meetings with Coach Trent Johnson, Morgan felt the situation had changed at LSU and decided to pursue his release.

“The bottom line with me will always be that I want players here who want to play for LSU,” Johnson said. “There is some closure with this decision, but no player will ever be bigger than the program.”

With his release granted by LSU, Morgan can now choose from numerous suitors to play college basketball next season. He stated earlier that UCLA was his favorite although it wouldn't be surprising if other schools begin to step up their efforts to recruit Morgan during this period.

With the graduation of senior Lorenzo Mata-Real and likely departure of Kevin Love to the NBA, the Bruins are in need of depth at the low post.

Morgan, a 6'10 265lb skilled big man, does not need to sign a letter of intent with a new school, instead he'd be offered a scholarship. Interestingly, the scholarship offer would not bind him to the school, his eligibility status is impacted only once he officially enrolls for his freshman year.

(photo credit: Dallas Morning News)


Sunday, May 11, 2008

Bruin Recruiting: Prep News Roundup (5/12)

By Bruin Basketball Report

Prep News Roundup is published every Monday.


I found not one but two reports confirming that several players from the Southland have been invited to attend tryouts for the USA under-18 national team, a group scheduled to compete in the 2008 FIBA Americas U18 Championship in Argentina on July 14-18. Malcolm Lee of Riverside North, Campbell Hall's Jrue Holiday, Compton Dominguez's Jordan Hamilton and Loyola's Hollis Thompson are four of the 20 athletes competing for a dozen roster spots at the tryouts, taking place July 1-4 at Georgetown. Training camp is set for July 4-10. UCLA-commits Drew Gordon of Archbishop Mitty and Reeves Nelson of Modesto Christian were also invited. LA Times 5/7

FINAL RANKINGS: Harrington's Top 100 for the Class of 2008: Yet another Californian, combo guard Jrue Holiday, gives the Golden State a clean sweep of the top three positions. Some scouts on the West Coast regard Holiday as the No. 1 player in the state, in this case equaling the top overall prospect in the senior class, and his superlative senior year certainly gives that argument credence. USA Today 5/10


J'Mison Morgan’s mother, Bianca Morgan, said Tuesday that she has submitted paperwork to the LSU athletic department seeking a release from the letter of intent and scholarship agreement her son signed last November. That letter of intent is binding according to NCAA rules, meaning LSU could deny Morgan’s request. If LSU chooses to do so, Morgan could either withdraw his request, attend LSU and play or opt to go to another school and sit out a year. Regardless of how things turn out, Bianca Morgan said her son’s decision is final, an about-face from late April when Morgan and South Oak Cliff High School coach James Mays said the player was LSU-bound after an in-person meeting with new Tigers coach Trent Johnson on April 22. The Advocate 5/7

Trent Johnson, speaking before the kickoff Tiger Tour event at the Alexandria Riverfront Center, said he planned to talk late Wednesday night or this morning to 6-foot-10 center J'Mison Morgan of Dallas in the wake of Wednesday's report that his mother is seeking a release from the letter of intent and scholarship agreement her son signed last November. "When I was at the (South Oak Cliff) high school and visited with the coach and the kid, and when I went into his home (two weeks ago), he said he wanted to come here," Johnson said. The Advertiser 5/8

Johnson is also being patient with LSU signee J'Mison "BoBo" Morgan, a 6-foot-10, 275-pound forward/center from South Oak Cliff High in Dallas who is the jewel of the Tigers' incoming recruiting class signed by Brady and Pierre. The class, which includes three others, is ranked 18th in the nation by Morgan is considered the No. 4 center in the nation and No. 25 prospect overall by, but his mother Bianca Morgan has said she no longer wants her son to go to LSU. UCLA is now in the hunt as Morgan recently told the Dallas Morning News that he felt the Bruins would provide "a better fit for me as far as exposure." Johnson said he still has a chance at keeping Morgan. Shreveport Times 5/9

Tyler Lamb is one of the most complete players in the class of 2010. He may not be superb in any facet of his game but he is very good at just about everything. Lamb is thought to be leaning towards UCLA but currently does not have an offer. GoAZCats 5/7

With the way basketball recruiting is nowdays, it's never too early to start keeping tabs on kids from the Southland. Everyone else is, namely NCAA Division I scouts. And Tyler Lamb is a great example, considering the sophomore from Colony is one of the nation's hottest prospects among the 2010 class. USC has offered a scholarship, according to this report. Another major player is UCLA. Seemingly every other PAC-10 school has expressed some level of interest. Can't forget to mention that Georgetown, Louisville, Memphis and Tennessee are keeping a watchful eye on Lamb too. With all the attention from schools across the country, it's hard to believe he's only a 10th-grader. We're talking about a youngster who has two more years of high school ball. If the gifted underclassman continues to improve, Lamb could end up at the college of his choosing by the time he's a senior. LA Times 5/9

Michael Snaer (6-5, 195), Junior, Moreno Valley, Calif./ Rancho Verde: Snaer has taken his game to another level this spring. His frame has slimmed down some, and as a result he has become more explosive, especially on the offensive glass. He is a solid all-around player. For his AAU team (Inland) he is playing point guard. But at the next level, he'll strictly be a 2-guard. He handles the ball well -- although his left hand needs some polishing -- and he has a quick first step to the basket. The biggest improvement of his game is his shooting. His jump shot appears to be less flat and his release is quick. He had a tendency at times to hunt shots and force the action, which lead to his being turnover prone. But overall he has definitely been one of the better performers at both ends of the court this spring. ESPN 5/7

Renardo Sidney (6-9, 245), Junior, Los Angeles/ Fairfax: Renardo Sidney needs to focus on his interior play to excel at the next level. Although his team (LA Dream) lost both of its pool play games, Sidney was by far the most physically dominating prospect this weekend. His frame is that of an NBA power forward -- with broad shoulders and long arms -- but he doesn't take advantage of it nearly enough. He can handle and pass the ball with equal aplomb, especially in transition. In addition, he has a solid stroke out to 22 feet. However, he settles for jump shots far too often and doesn't dominate the interior -- at either end -- as much as he should. Although he may envision himself as an NBA wing-type, he is simply becoming too big for that to happen. Sidney needs to continue to work on his face-up, 4-man skills and develop more skill and savvy in the post to reach his potential. At this level, he can get away with trying to be LeBron James, but at the next level and beyond he'll have to adjust to become more like Chris Webber. ESPN 5/7

Jeremy Tyler (6-9, 240), Sophomore, San Diego: After watching Tyler dominate the Cactus Classic last spring as a freshman, it's simply amazing how much his overall skills, fundamentals, explosiveness and savvy have taken a significant step backward in terms of development. He is still blessed with an incredible frame with some of the longest arms I've seen on a prospect, but overall he has become one of the most talked about enigmas on the West Coast. Tyler did have some moments of brilliance and gave a few glimpses of the vast potential he possesses. However, his fundamentals -- he has a tendency to brings the ball down the court in traffic -- and overall skills -- he really needs to develop a jump hook -- have diminished from a year go. He used to be able to hit the 15-foot jump shot off the glass with regularity, but I haven't seen him take or convert that shot in more than six months. In addition, he used to rebound, using both hands, with a sense of urgency and be quite the ferocious dunker in traffic, but he didn't display that type of explosiveness this weekend. In the grand scheme of things, he is only a sophomore with a lot of pressure on his shoulders and two more years of maturity to rely on. But his development -- both from a mental and physical standpoint -- is going to be one of the more interesting stories to follow in the coming years. ESPN 5/7

Cactus Classic: Avery Bradley (Northwest Panthers)- Bradley spent a lot of time on the bench after picking up some early fouls guarding Wall, but he came alive in the second half to spur the Panthers to their comeback win. Scoring on pull up jumpers and explosive assaults on the rim, Bradley finished with 16 points. He also displayed his defensive prowess, making Wall struggle to find driving lanes down the stretch of the game. The one disappointing area of Bradley's performance is that he didn't come up with a rebound in the game. Nonetheless, this spring Bradley has established himself as one of the top shooting guards in the country and a candidate for five-star status. Gator Bait 5/10

Cactus Classic: Jordan Hamilton (Team Odom)- Playing an unselfish and poised game, Hamilton set the tone for his team with his strong rebounding and timely passing. More than just a scorer, Hamilton has a great feel for the game and the physique and skill level to make a variety of plays. And although his focus wasn't scoring, he still put up 22 points. Gator Bait 5/10

Cactus Classic: Although many observers expect Renardo Sidney to stay in Los Angeles for college, the skilled power forward has been expanding his school list lately. Saturday he mentioned Arizona State, USC, UCLA, Texas, Kansas and Memphis as schools of interest. He also added another school to the top of his list. Evidently impressed by his surroundings in Tucson, Sidney spoke glowingly about Arizona. "I'm really liking Arizona right now," Sidney said. "The gym is off the chain, and I got to walk around campus the other night and it's just crazy. I'm planning on coming back down in a month or so for a visit." Sidney's play in this event has been has been less than stellar. His squad LA Dream Team was bounced out of the event in its first bracket game with Sidney averaging 12.5 points per game and 6.8 rebounds per game. Immensely skilled, Sidney hasn't been able to fully tap into his abilities this weekend because of poor physical conditioning and emotional instability on the court. For Sidney to remain at the top of his class, and more importantly, for Sidney to become the player he is capable of becoming, he most stop being his own worse enemy. Gator Bait 5/11

(photo credit: The Advertiser)