Notebook: KU on the verge?

In our weekly Notebook feature, the national team explores creative and broad topics from the grassroots hoops realm.

Kansas set to reel in big haul

Carlton Bragg is set to announce his college decision on Thursday and as of Tuesday morning, all signs pointed toward Bragg ultimately choosing Kansas.

Assuming Bragg ends up picking the Jayhawks, they appear on target for a very strong close to their 2015 class.

In fact, as of today Kansas doesn't hold a pledge from anyone in the 2015 class. But to go with Bragg, the Jayhawks are also under heavy consideration by five of the country’s top 12 prospects: Jaylen Brown, Malik Newman, Ivan Rabb, Cheick Diallo and Stephen Zimmerman.

And I don't think Kansas strikes out on all of those guys. It's too early to make a stab at where Brown's going, but Kansas has gotten an official visit and are certainly strong in the mix. Same goes with the other four mentioned.

Their 2015 class may have started slow, but I'm expecting Bill Self and the Jayhawks to finish with one of the top classes in the country.

— Evan Daniels

Pac-12 signees show improvement at Take Flight Challenge

This past weekend at the Jordan Hangar in Los Angeles, the Take Flight Challenge showcased several of the top high school teams in Southern California. On display were a number of Pac-12 commitments and signees, many of whom improved their stock.

Aaron Holiday, a UCLA signee from North Hollywood (Calif.) Campbell Hall, showed his big time athleticism from the point guard position and ability to play on and off the ball.

Holiday’s backcourt versatility should improve a struggling Bruins offense

He took mostly good shots and had success as a shooter, but also was tough to stop off the dribble, created for teammates and played terrific defense. His toughness on both sides of the ball will be a welcome addition for the Bruins.

UCLA had another commitment in attendance in 2016 Chino Hills (Calif.) point guard Lonzo Ball. One of the most versatile players in the country, Ball is an elite passer who had his way driving and on the glass. He'll need to keep improving his shot selection and defense, but he has several elite attributes and is a very unique prospect with significant upside, should he put it all together.

USC also had a couple of future players in attendance, starting with 2015 Lawndale (Calif.) power forward Chimezie Metu. Over the last two years, there has been dramatic progress in Metu's game, and now he's quickly establishing himself as on of the top post prospects in his class. A high level athlete, Metu is playing as hard as he ever has and has also really improved as a passer. As good as Metu has become, he's not even close to his ceiling.

Another USC signee, Sun Valley (Calif.) Village Christian power forward Bennie Boatwright, solidified his standing as one of the top shooters in the 2015 class.

A pure three-point stroke sets Boatwright apart

Boatwright's size at 6-foot-9 and shooting stroke make him a major weapon from the perimeter, where opposing four men are going to have to face guard him at the next level. Boatwright has also improved as a rebounder and passer.

Oregon State landed a big commitment in 2015 Torrance (Calif.) Bishop Montgomery shooting guard Stephen Thompson, Jr. One of the top scorers in his class, Thompson's skill level has improved annually since his freshman season and he's now a dynamic bucket getter who can do it from all three levels. Thompson never takes a play off and projects as a very productive player in the Pac-12.

Another Oregon State signee, Montebello (Calif.) Cantwell Sacred Heart center Gligorije Rakocevic, showed his skill level, size and motor, while Oregon signee Kendall Small of Mayfair (Calif.), is a very good slasher who also plays hard-nosed defense.

— Josh Gershon

Bryant makes strong impression

Huntington Prep center Thomas Bryant has always been considered one of the better players in the class of 2015. He is long, athletic, runs the floor well, plays hard and really can rebound the basketball. Now, Bryant is also scoring the ball a bit better and seems very focused during his senior season.

At the Cancer Research Classic, Bryant was very impressive and showed that he continues to get better. He is not a kid who is without his flaws, as his footwork needs significant improvement, but his game seems to be going in the right direction and Bryant continues to be very productive.

Bryant was fairly coy about his recruitment, but all the talk behind the scenes is that his mother very strongly prefers Thomas to go to Syracuse, and that most think it would be an upset if he doesn't end up playing for the Orange.

— Brian Snow

Murray making his move

One of Orangeville Prep’s unsung heroes is Jamal Murray. It might sound weird to term the nation’s No. 30 junior unsung, but given that he plays with Thon Maker for the Canada-based club, the picture becomes clearer.

Murray possesses outstanding size for a combo guard

Murray’s play at last week’s HSOT Invitational ranged from good to excellent, and he appears primed for a hotly contested recruitment. We list the 6-4, 185-pound guard as a wing, but to be clear he’s actually a combo — and arguably should slot at point guard first.

He frequently runs the offense for Orangeville, creating for himself and others very effectively. He handles far better than most 6-4 guards and also is a talented passer. He loves to create off the dribble and elevate for mid-range jump shots. He’s also a gifted athlete capable of violent slams, and his frame looks very solid for the college level and beyond.

Murray has managed to enhance his stock this season despite ceding the headlines to Maker (and to Maker’s younger brother, Matur, to a lesser extent), a testament to his talent and potential.

— Rob Harrington

Evan Daniels, Brian Show, Josh Gershon and Rob Harrington contributed to this report

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