Inside Word

The Inside Words are coming more frequently these days, as rumors heat up heading into summer. There's a big sophomore commitment, and more reliable rumors concerning Tron Smith, David Padgett, Ryan Hollins and Aaron Brooks...

Perhaps the biggest news on the west coast is the potential commitment of a sophomore – and that commitment being to Duke. DeMarcus Nelson, 6-2 SO PG, Vallejo (Calif.) High, reportedly has given a very early commitment to Duke. North Carolina, Arizona and other big-named schools had been on him very early, and then he played exceptionally well at recent spring tournaments, which more than likely precipitated the possible Duke offer. Also, Nelson traveled to Duke this weekend while playing in the Bob Gibbons tournament. We're hearing that the Nelson family will make an announcement today.

And perhaps the second-biggest tidbit concerns Tron Smith, 6-1 JR PG, Moreno Valley (Calif.) Canyon Springs. Yes, we spoke with Smith last weekend in Fresno and he denied that he had committed to Arizona State. But good, very reliable sources close to the situation say that Smith has indeed committed to the Sun Devils. Hopefully soon we'll get everyone on the page and have a consensus on Smith.

David Padgett, 6-10 JR C, Reno (Nev.) High, has visited Kansas, Stanford and Arizona. He's indicated that he'll wait to take the last two trips, but the candidates for those two visits could come from California, Oregon, Louisville, Florida or UNLV. Louisville's Rick Pitino impressed the Padgetts when he came to visit during the contact period and spent over 6 hours with the family.

The word is that Harrison Schaen, 6-8 JR PF, Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei, is leaning heavily toward Princeton, while influences close to him want him to go for a bigger basketball program. Being a very good student, and given Schaen's level of talent, Princeton seems like an excellent fit for him.

Ryan Hollins, 6-10 SR C, Pasadena (Calif.) Muir, visited Washington last weekend, but didn't commit, as many suspected he would. He has indicated recently that he wanted to follow Lorenzo Romar to Washington, but the trip wasn't apparently enough to elicit a commitment. The word is that Hollins will visit UCLA officially this weekend or next, depending on his high school track schedule, and then decide.

Also coming in on an official visit to UCLA this weekend is Israeli player, Yanif Green, who is a 6-9 power forward on the Israeli national team. Reportedly, Green visited Cal a couple of weekends back, and is close with current Cal player, Israeli Amit Tamir. Green is supposed to be similar in size to Tamir, but more of a true low-post player. Connnecticut is also reportedly involved. Green is 21 years old, and it's still a distinct possibility he could play professionally in Israel. He would be eligible next year to play college – as a 21-year-old freshman.

Keeping on the same motif of UCLA's official visits, Aaron Brooks, 5-11 JR PG, Seattle (Wash.) Franklin, is scheduled to visit UCLA next weekend, the 7th and 8th. It's apparently the only official visit Brooks has arranged so far, while also considering Gonzaga, Oregon, Washington, Utah and Florida State. Brooks is trying out for the USA Basketball 17-and-under team this weekend.

Other west coasters trying out for the team are fellow Washington point guard Ryan Appleby, Mohammed Abukar, Hassan Adams, Trevor Ariza, Ekene Ibekwe, Marquis Kately, Padgett, Chris Rodgers, and Antoine Wright.

There is also a rumor that Sean Phaler, 6-9 JR PF, Villa Park (Calif.) is leaning toward Stanford.

When it comes to the Inside Word, it seems that Cal is the topic of many in recent months, and still is. More and more, we're hearing that Ayinde Ubaka, 6-2 JR PG, Oakland (Calif.) High, is a heavy lean to Cal. We're also hearing that his AAU teammate, Leon Powe, 6-7 JR PF, Oakland (Calif.) Tech, favors Cal, while also liking Florida and Kansas.

Patrick Dennehy, the 6-10 freshman center who left New Mexico, has transferred to Baylor. Andre Hazel, the freshman point guard who left Nevada, looks to be leaning toward USF. The word is that talented Steve Moore, the one-time shooting guard standout from Compton Dominguez, will spend one more year at a JC and then could be leaning toward going to Oregon.

On the high school transfer scene, Harvey Perry, SO CG, had intended to transfer from Henderson (Nev.) Green Valley to Van Nuys Montclair Prep. But Perry has decided not to go to California, but intends to enroll at his original high school, Henderson (Nev.) Foothill next year.

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