Sun Devils' Hoops Recruiting Heats Up

With the all important July evaluation period just around the corner, would like to take some time to do a comprehensive basketball recruiting overview based on the latest information we have gathered.

Head Coach Rob Evans has 4, possibly 5, scholarships to give for the 2003 recruiting class. The 5th ride could very well already be set-aside for Kevin Kruger, a 2002 recruited walk-on and potential greyshirt from the Atlanta metro area. Kruger attended Walton High School in the Atlanta suburb of Marietta and was an honorable mention for the state 5A(highest division) team in Georgia. His father is Lon Kruger who is head coach of the Atlanta Hawks. Kevin is a 6' 175 pound guard who is fundamentally sound and a pure shooter who shot a sizzling 50% from3 point range as a senior. He elected to attend ASU over several SEC schools offering scholarships primarily because of the close relationship that his father shares with Rob Evans and assistant coach Dan O'Dowd who was a graduate assistant under Kruger in 1989-90 at Kansas State University.

With Kruger looking to redshirt and developing star Jason Braxton only heading into his second year as a Sun Devil the primary 2003 recruiting focus is certainly not on the point guard position. There is however a singular special player at this position that cannot be overlooked. His name is Tron Smith. Some may know that Smith is the former high school teammate of Braxton at the venerable Canyon Springs High School in Moreno Valley, California. What you may not know however is that Braxton and Smith are extremely close friends and reportedly share a bloodline, as distant cousins. Tron even lived with Jason's family for a short period during his early high school career.

Now, there has been much speculation as to whether Smith has verbally committed to the Sun Devils or not. Very well placed sources on both sides of this situation say that Tron has indeed pledged ASU and it will become public information at some point in the not-too distant future. While nothing is set in stone without a signed National Letter of Intent in-hand, his commitment is another feather in Evans' cap, after a stellar 2002 recruiting class.

Tron Smith is poised to blow up like a few other West Coast players this summer at the July Camps such as the Adidas Bigtime in Las Vegas and Best of Summer Classic in Los Angeles. In fact, it's quite possible that following this summer Tron will emerge as one of the best overall guard prospects in Southern California, comparing favorably with the likes of elite recruits Marcus Williams, Mikel Watson and Omar Wilkes. Already this spring he has dominated at the Mats Madness Memorial Day Tournament and at the Tournament of Champions. Hoopscooponline has listed him as a prospect sure to climb into its next installment of the top 100 prospects in the country and PrepWest Hoops has called him one of the true elite guards in the West. Smith is a 6'2 combo-guard who will likely end up as a point guard at some point during this year. He has excellent quickness, athleticism and hops (perhaps just a notch behind that of Braxton), and is one of the best shooting guards in the West, with unlimited range.

With Tron Smith likely on-board the Sun Devils can heighten focus on the needs that must be met with the 3 other available scholarships. None of these has apparently been earmarked for a particular player as of yet.

The Sun Devils are in the market for a true wing forward, particularly with Donnell Knight and Shawn Redhage exhausting their eligibility following this upcoming season. Here are the known prospects currently getting the bulk of the attention at this position: Devon Eversten, 6'6 Moon Valley HS, Phoenix AZ.

It looks as thought ASU is still in contact with this blue chipper who is generally regarded as the best rising senior in the state of Arizona. Evertsen has always had his heart set on the University of Arizona due to his close relationship with ex-Wildcat Richard Jefferson, as well as a strong desire to attend the best basketball school in the West. Nevertheless, it appears that the U of A is no longer intent on signing a pure wing in the class of 2003, but rather focusing on signing a couple of interior players and a point guard, following the signing of two small forwards in their impressive 2002 class. Evertsen has not publicly stated an interest in ASU as of yet, but ruling out the hometown Sun Devils could prove premature at this point.

Marcus Dove, 6'7, Long Beach Milikan HS, California

Dove's value has really soared as of late in the recruiting circles. Playing as a junior at one of the largest public high schools in the state, he managed to make the All-CIF 1AA team (highest Division). Only one other junior accomplished this feat. SoCalHoops ranks him as one of the top 5 wings in the region and PrepWest Hoops lists him as among the better West Coast wings in the state. He averaged 18 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists and is thought to have somewhat of a "point-forward" style of play. He has good ball handling, court vision and awareness and is an above average athlete.

Justin Hawkins, 6'6, Mayfair HS, Lakewood California

Hawkins was once a prime recruiting target of the University of Arizona along with Devon Evertsen. But when the U of A decided not to bring in a true wing, Hawkins' recruitment possibilities have opened up and recently he has mentioned ASU as being of his schools of interest, while listing Boston College as a current leader.

Hawkins is a terrific basketball player, one who would be among the best prospects in the country if he were more athletic. While he is only an average to above-average athlete there is no substitute for his natural skill level on the court. He is an excellent shooter from range, has great ball skills and passing skills, and can score in a variety of ways. He's certainly among the best wings in Southern California.

Richard Cobbs, 6'5, Canyon Springs, Moreno Valley, CA

Another former teammate of Jason Braxton's and current classmate of Tron Smith. Cobbs was widely regarded as one of the best prospects in the country several years ago but due to various injuries and a lack of development in his game over that span, now has become a player that a great many have generally written off. Some of the national publications that have not seen him much still rate Cobbs very high but local services are not as favorable in their reviews. Cobbs is a player who intrigues schools from major conferences but needs a big summer to prove his recruiting value. He could wind up at an elite school, a top tier mid-major or anywhere in between. At one point, ASU showed a lot of interest in Cobbs, but in recent months Coach Evans and his staff have been lukewarm towards the forward. However, a solid showing in the summer cams could rekindle ASU's interest.

Tyler McGinn, 6'7 Mesquite HS, Gilbert Arizona

As a very fundamentally sound player who has a thirst for the game, McGinn may be the second best wing in the state of Arizona behind Evertsen. So far he has been a bit under-recruited for unknown reasons, and it isn't because of his academics as he is a near straight ‘A' student with a 3.9 GPA and an SAT score of 1070. He's been invited to the prestigious Adidas ABCD camp this summer, where we're sure that his recruitment prospects will increase exponentially.

Thomas Huff, 6'5, Camelback, HS

Perhaps the most interesting prospect listed here due to the fact that he's a star on the gridiron as well as on the hardwood. At 6'5 Huff is a remarkably dynamic wide receiver who is being courted by a plethora of high majors including Arizona State.

He is also garnering interest from a great many college coaches for his natural ability on the basketball court. Though he is a bit raw, Huff has all the physical skills required to be a standout player at the next level. It's an odds-on bet that ASU will land one of the above wings in the class of 2003.

Another void that the ASU staff seems to have an interest in filling is the role of combo-forward, a position currently occupied by Tommie Smith. Smith will also be a senior this coming fall, and there are a few known prospects that ASU is looking at to fill his position slot in the roster.

Keith Wooden, 6'9, Free State HS, Lawrence Kansas

Wooden is widely considered the best high school junior in the heartland of the United States. He is ranked among the top 50 high school players in the country by just about everybody with such a list. You may be asking yourself, how in world does ASU have a shot with a guy like this who is receiving interest from Kansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Indiana and a host of other elite programs? Well, his high school coach played under Rob Evans at Ole' Miss. Wooden has not listed ASU in the past, and it'd certainly be a long shot that he'd come to Tempe, especially considering that his girlfriend attends Kansas and is the daughter of Neil Daugherty, the former Jayhawk assistant and current head coach at TCU.

Wooden's game most resembles that of Antoine Walker of Boston in that he likes to face up and shoot the ball from the perimeter. He's also similarly built. Don't expect Wooden to be a Sun Devil, but hope for it at the very least!

Lawrence Carrier, 6'8, Salisbury Prep HS, Conn.

An AAU teammate of Richard Cobbs and Tron Smith on Elvert "Kool-Aid" Perry's Inland squad, Carrier is perhaps even more of an enigma than Richard Cobbs. Many publications rate him among the top 25 players in his class nationally, but Greg Hicks of PrepWest Hoops recently stated that he's "vastly overrated as a player." He contends that Carrier has no idea of how to play within a team concept and is content to just stand around and jack up low percentage shots from the perimeter, not to mention the fact that he's overweight and out of shape. These words are hardly a ringing endorsement of someone deserving national publicity, and Hicks and his counterpart Tracy Pierson have proven to be good arbiters of talent.

Still there is interest from ASU and while it's possible that it could just be an attempt to placate "Kool-Aid" Perry, it's not a certainty that this is the case. Of all the players ASU is recruiting for the 2003 class, this one might be the most interesting to watch. It certainly has an interesting wrinkle to it.

Kerry Woolridge, 6'7 San Leandro HS, Calif

The lone Northern Californian on this list, Woolridge plays AAU ball with the Bay Area Ballers. At one point last November, PrepWest Hoops ranked Woolridge as the #3 wing forward in the West. He's grown some and has become more of a post forward and in doing so has dropped a bit in the rankings game over the past few months, but that could all change with a good summer, and a solid effort in the weight-room. He's certainly one to keep an eye on. Grades may be an issue, as Woolridge acknowledged a 2.3 core GPA.

The position that ASU has the most urgent need to fill would seem to be in the post with a true back-to-the-basket type of center. After Chris Osborne finishes his playing career at ASU next season the only remaining scholarship player capable of playing center will be all-world freshman Ike Diogu, who's more of a power forward in nature.

There are several intriguing prospects that could fill the void left when Osborne departs.

Ray Schafer, 6'11, Wasilla, Alaska

Schafer is a true center who is getting recruiting attention from everyone in the Pac-10 with the exception of U of A. An interesting tidbit to keep in mind regarding Schafer is that both of his parents went to ASU and he's looking for a place with a different climate from Alaska. He has developing skills and a nice frame and is reportedly fluid with good footwork and coordination. His offensive game needs work, but he has the requisite tools and has come a long way in the past year alone.

Maurice Shaw, 6'10, Moon Valley HS, Phoenix

Shaw moved to the Valley to live with his father only a few months ago from Fresno where he attended several high schools while living with his mother. Already he has reportedly switched schools again in the Phoenix area, moving from Gilbert High School to Moon Valley High School where interestingly enough he'll be a teammate of Devon Eversten should he stay put.

Shaw was impressive this spring, being named to the all-tournament team in the state AAU championships. His biggest hurdle, might not be on the court but in the classroom where he has apparently struggled, even failing to gain eligibility to play as a junior in Fresno. Shaw has recently stated that he's focusing harder on his work in the classroom and has a 3.0 grade point average. He has already unofficially met Coach Evans on the ASU campus.

Vince Scott, 6'10 Greenway HS, Phoenix

Attends the same high school that Chad Prewitt once led to the state-championship game. Scott runs the floor very well and is a solid athlete. He needs to develop his offensive game more, add size, and probably would not be ready to contribute early in his career. Nonetheless, he could wind up as a very good player at the high major level down the road.

Marcus Isaac, 6'11 Peoria HS, Phoenix

Marcus is the younger brother of former ASU recruit Darryl Isaac who failed to meet admission requirements. Marcus is in the same mold of his brother, tall and skinny with reportedly questionable grades. He has a lot of raw talent but whether or not that talent is developed obviously remains to be seen.

Throughout the summer other potential prospects that are currently unknown, will become apparent in the coming months. While we didn't mention any Texas prospects, the Lone Star state will be targeted gain, and can translate into other players from the Texas Blue Chips team, that brought us incoming freshmen Ike Diogu and Allen Morill.

Sun Devil Source Top Stories