ASU Hoops Thinking Big (Men)

The Arizona State coaching staff spent the July evaluation period out on the recruiting trail, making themselves seen by recruits and hardening their list of priorities for the November signing period. With Tommie Smith and Chris Osborne scheduled exhausting their eligibility after the upcoming season, the staff is looking to add at least two and possibly as many as three talented post players from the 2003 high school class. Here is a look at the names generating the most interest.

Maurice Shaw, 6'9 C/PF, Gilbert HS, Gilbert (AZ)

Since moving to Arizona from Fresno, California earlier this year, Shaw has been one of the most talked about prospects in the state. However, his obvious talent in the post is shadowed by his academic status. One of the hot topics of discussion in the recruiting circles has been which high school Shaw plans on attending in the fall. He had been rumored to be undecided between Gilbert and Moon Valley, but Shaw wanted to make perfectly clear what his high school choice would be. "I'll be at Gilbert. When I first came to Arizona, I went to Gilbert because my uncle lives out there. It was a good experience, they have a good coach, so I just want to stay out there." As for the rumors about attending Moon Valley, Shaw says, "Moon Valley's good but it's not for me. You know Devon's (Evertsen) there and I want him to be able to do his thing and I can do mine."

Shaw certainly got off to a good start in Arizona being named MVP of the state AAU Championships this spring while playing for the Copper State All-Stars. Early in the July evaluation period he was voted the best post player in the West at the prestigious Nike Camp in Indianapolis. Not surprisingly, his recruitment soared as a result of this performance. Things took a turn for the worse however, at the Las Vegas Adidas Bigtime tournament where Shaw, playing for the Arizona Heat AAU team, experienced a falling out with head coach Elliot Glabman. As a result, he did not play in the team's final game. As it is, he had a mediocre showing early in the week. He faired much better this past weekend playing for yet a third AAU squad in 3 months, at the Double Pump Best of Summer Tournament, held at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.

When focused and playing hard, Shaw has a nice touch around the basket with a variety of post moves and a nice fluid stroke. He runs the floor relatively well for his size, and has shown the ability to impact a game defensively and on the glass. He tends to coast at times and when things aren't going his way on the court, his intensity and hustle take a nose-dive. Shaw says that he sees himself as a combo forward, but he'd be better served to exclusively playing full time at the power forward position, where his impact will be much greater. Case in point, schools such as ASU, Texas Tech, Utah, Syracuse and Indiana are recruiting him at that position. He plans on visiting most or all of the schools on that list after taking the SAT test in September. There have been questions about his performance in the classroom but Shaw claims to have a handle on the situation with an improved cumulative GPA of 2.5.

Ray Schafer, 6'10 C, Wasilla HS, Wasilla (AK)

The consensus #1 prospect in the state of Alaska, Schafer's recruitment is considered to be a priority with the ASU staff. He recently suffered a partially torn meniscus in his knee, keeping him out of action during the July evaluation period but that hasn't stopped him from receiving scholarship offers from 9 of the 10 schools in the Pac-10 with the Arizona being the lone exception. When asked who was recruiting him the hardest, Schafer simply said, "everybody." It's not hard to see how that could be the case considering the small pool of talented high-major post players in this year's senior class, and the fact that Schafer is considered a "can't miss prospect" by recruiting gurus.

While Schafer remains very wide-open and doesn't list his favorite schools; there is one particular school that his family is quite familiar with. "My dad played (basketball) at Arizona State. He had a full ride there. My mom actually went there too, and that's where they met. They don't push me to go there or anything like that, but they do have nice things to say about it. It's definitely an influence" An excellent student who will have no problem qualifying, Schafer plans on narrowing his list and then taking official visits in the fall.

After leading his Wasilla High School team to a perfect 13-0 league record, Schafer's team lost a close overtime game in the semifinals of the state championships. He nearly averaged a double-double as a junior with 19 points and nearly 10 rebounds a game, and was named first team all-state. He reportedly plays very well with his back to the basket, and has the ability to run the floor and finish on the break. He's very fluid for his a man his size and while still developing, Schafer has a lot of upside.

Mitch Platt 6'10 C, Green Valley HS, Henderson (NV)

Platt didn't have too far too travel for the Adidas Bigtime, considering the tournament headquarters was at the very high school he attends, just southeast of Las Vegas proper. He's apparently lost a good deal of weight in the last year and looked to be in very good shape physically, with a nice frame and legitimate height for a high major center prospect. He moves well, and has a developing low post game on offense. His defense was rather suspect in the event, but that's often the rule rather than the exception in summer AAU basketball. Thus, it isn't likely to have a bearing on his recruitment, particularly in a down year for post players on the west coast.

As a result of his physical appearance and improved performance (not to mention the front page story on him in the local newspaper), few players have improved their stock as much as Platt in the weeklong tournament. "I'm looking into taking official visits to (Texas) Tech and Oregon, and probably USC" Other schools vying for the remaining visits, should he take them are UNLV, ASU, Utah and San Diego State. "I want to stay as close to home as I can, but do what's best for me also." Platt takes a smart approach to his game, knowing that he needs to constantly improve and refine his skills. "I need to work on my all-around game, obviously I need to improve on my back to the basket moves…Free throws, too. I do (well) down the stretch but in the beginning (of a game) I struggle a little bit."

In the classroom, Platt is another player has taken care of his business with a 3.3 GPA and an SAT score of 950. It's one of the biggest reasons that coaches like Bobby Knight, Rick Majerus, Rob Evans, and assistants from dozens of other Division 1 schools came out to watch Platt perform at the Bigtime, on his way to an all-tournament selection.

Vince Scott 6'10 C, Greenway HS, Phoenix (AZ)

A prospect who's more raw than Platt, Scott is still growing and may have more "upside" as they say in the recruiting world. Art Dye, the director of the Arizona Stars AAU program says that he could see Vince end up growing to be 7' and 250 pounds in a matter of a couple of years. He does have a very young face and has already adjusted to his body relatively well. He is agile and smooth for an interior player, with smaller feet than you'd expect for a player of his stature. Scott is a very good long-range shooter, which ironically reminds you of another Greenway product, ex-ASU great Chad Prewitt. He plays a bit timid in the post at times, getting moved off the block rather easily and preferring to lay the ball up off the glass as opposed to going up strong and dunking it. This will have to change at the next level, as Scott witnessed first hand at the Bigtime a number of his shot attempts being blocked by players taller and more athletic than those he goes up against in the local high school ranks.

Along with Brett Collins, Scott led the Arizona Stars team to a 5-0 start in the tournament before losing to a tough Gary Payton-sponsored Nike Select team featuring the talented Stewart twins, Lodrick and Rodrick. Playing in a tournament environment in front of big name coaches from around the country was an important opportunity to garner exposure according to Scott, who said, "You obviously have to step up your game and show what you can do, but you also just have to go out and play like they're not there."

A near straight "A" student, Scott has a number of excellent academic institutions recruiting him including Princeton, Rice, and Northwestern, all of which he'd like to visit. Scott's also interested in the Pac-10, most notably Stanford, and he's seen some interest from ASU as well. He has no preference in terms of staying close to home or going away to school.

Keith Wooden 6'8 SF/PF, Lawrence Free State HS, Lawrence (KS)

A skilled combo-forward, Wooden is one of a couple high school players still being recruited by ASU not to participate in the Adidas Bigtime. Generally regarded as being among the best players in the country's heartland, Wooden has recently listed ASU as a leader for his services, due in large part to his developing relationship with the coaching staff in Tempe. The relationship was undoubtley fostered in part by Wooden's high school coach who played college basketball for Rob Evans at Ole' Miss.

Wooden's game reportedly resembles that of a young Antoine Walker from the Boston Celtics, with good ball and perimeter skills, and a nice shot from the three point line. He needs to add a little size, but has the frame to do so, particularly when considering the fact that he's only 16 years old, and won't turn 17 until well into his senior year. He is already particularly adept at facing up, taking his man off the dribble and either getting to the rim or pulling up for the mid-range jump shot.

The question that almost invariably comes up with Wooden is how a guy like this from Lawrence, Kansas could possibly end up anywhere else other than with the hometown University of Kansas Jayhawks, particularly when considering that his girlfriend is a freshman-to-be at the University? Apparently, Kansas has been less than resolute in the recruitment of Wooden, and that fact may not be lost on the local standout. Another school that may factor heavily into the equation is Texas Christian, a school that is coached by the father of Wooden's girlfriend. Some of the other schools that interest Wooden include Indiana, Kentucky, Louisville, and Missouri.

Lawrence Carrier 6'7 SF/PF, Salisbury School, Salisbury (CT)

After making the all-tournament team at the 2001 Las Vegas Bigtime, Carrier was listed by most recruiting services among the top 25 players in the country in the 2003 class. That, combined with the fact that he played on a talented Inland AAU team featuring ASU pledge Tron Smith made Carrier a primary target for the Sun Devils. This no longer seems to be the case however, as Carrier has gained unnecessary weight in the past year and his game has yielded little improvement.

At this year's Bigtime, Carrier showed that his has nice touch around the arc and decent passing skills, but he's relatively limited athletically, particularly at his current weight (in the 240-250 pound range). He's also too often content with sliding around on the perimeter and putting up three point shots that don't seem to fit within the context of the offensive scheme. He does have skills, but needs to lose 15-20 pounds and rededicate himself to team-oriented basketball on both ends of the floor.

Nevertheless, Carrier is getting recruited at the high major level for his potential alone and lists schools such as Miami, UCONN, UCLA, Stanford and ASU. Stanford seems to be quite a bit of a reach considering Carrier's SAT score is in the mid-900's. That's certainly good enough for the NCAA clearinghouse, but probably not for Stanford.

A couple of other big men prospects to watch are:

Guy Ngarndi 6'8 SF/PF, Louisville Western HS, Louisville (KY)

A native of Cameroon, Ngarndi has been living in the States for about a year and going to school at Louisville Western high school. Playing in the Bigtime for the Derek Smith All Stars, we caught Ngarndi for about a half and were relatively impressed. He has excellent athleticism and plays hard on both ends at all times. While still being pretty raw offensively, Ngarndi has legitimate talent and could produce at the high major level a couple years down the road, projecting as a combo forward.

Wilfred Fameni 6'8 PF, Amelia Academy, Amelia Ct HS (VA)

Like Ngarndi, Fameni hails from Cameroon, and has been in the country for a relatively short period of time. He's a true power forward, with a strong body weighing around 230 pounds with an abundance of raw talent. Fameni has taken the east coast by storm, playing very well in the Bob Gibbons tournament of champions and other AAU events this summer. He is interested in NC State, Richmond, LaSalle and ASU among others. We hear that ASU is trying hard to recruit both Ngarndi and Fameni and having a Cameroon native on the roster, Serge Angounou, can only help. While Duke has the Cameron Crazies, should ASU land either Ngarndi or Fameni, it could lead to the birth of an interesting pun, the Cameroon Crazies, especially when considering the frenetic pace that these African player are known for.

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