CHAMPS FOCUS ON BIGSRick Pitino and his Louisville Cardinals are off to a great start with their 2014 recruiting class.
Louisville already has five-star guard JaQuan Lyle on board, plus a pair of top 40 recruits in Quentin Snider and Shaqquan Aaron. The next step with their class, which currently ranks No. 2 in the country, is getting a few quality big men.
At the NIKE Peach Jam this past weekend, Rick Pitino watched 2014 targets Trey Lyles, Cliff Alexander and Angel Delgado. Pitino also evaluated Goodluck Okonoboh, Jaylen Johnson and Elbert Robinson during the first evaluation period.
JOHNSON SHINES AT PEACH JAMStanley Johnson made his way into Scout.com's top 10 for the first time just prior to the July evaluation period.
At the Peach Jam, Johnson didn't slow down, scoring 128 points through five games with the Oakland Soldiers.
I watched his 33-point outing against Expression Elite last Friday and it was easily the best individual performance I've seen this summer.
There wasn't much Johnson didn't do. He was aggressive with his drives, as always. He used his strength and athleticism to reel in 14 boards. And Johnson was efficient and showed range on his long-range shot.
Johnson has been highly touted since he was a freshman, but this spring and summer he's ramped up his play. It's clear he's spent hours in the gym working on his game and it's paying off on the court.
KENTUCKY/LOUISVILLE BATTLE FOR LYLES?
While publicly Lyles isn't claiming a leader or a group of leaders, the perception is that the Lyles recruitment will come down to a battle between the last two National Champions – Kentucky and Louisville.
"I've heard a lot of rumors about that since I was overseas, but everyone is really equal," Lyles said. "No one is ahead of another."
What sticks out about Kentucky and Louisville?
"They have great coaches, great legacies and great players coming in," he said. "They always seem to have a way of getting guys to the NBA."
When pressed to dissect the two schools, Lyles said he didn't see many differences in the two programs.
"I'd say there really isn't a lot of difference, except Kentucky has younger players and they get guys to the league faster than Louisville," Lyles said. "But Louisville might develop their players a little bit better."
Lyles has been on both campuses multiple times. One advantage Louisville might have is Lyles' former AAU teammate JaQuan Lyle recently pledged to play for Rick Pitino. He said that familiarity could help.
"Definitely being able to play with a guy that you played with for a couple years and that you know very well helps a out a lot," he said. "I know his game and he knows my game so it's really going to help if I decide to play for them."
At this point, Lyles doesn't have any official visit dates set up.
ROBINSON CONTINUES STRONG PLAYAlex Robinson has been on quite the tear this spring and summer.
That strong play continued with the Texas Titans at the Nike Peach Jam, where Robinson averaged 14 points, 5.2 assists and 5.6 rebounds a game.
The 6-foot-1 lead guard was vocal, ran his team and made good decisions with the ball. He's developed into a true lead guard and his ability to create scoring opportunities has improved immensely over the past year.
On top of that, he's handling the ball with care, pestering the opposition with his on the ball defense and he's mixing in strong drives when he needs to.
Following his strong showing, Robinson scored a phone call from Josh Pastner, of Memphis, and Kansas. Robinson currently holds scholarship offers from Miami, Pittsburgh, Texas A&M, Minnesota, Vanderbilt and Florida State.
Robinson took a visit to Pittsburgh just prior to the July evaluation period. He's also taken an unofficial visit to Texas A&M.