Inside Word

We're halfway through the July evaluation period and it's time to get you caught up on the rumors, some of which are pretty astounding, on both a west coast and national level...

The first half of the July evaluation period is in the books. The second half resumes on Monday and runs the rest of the month. So, it gives us a chance to take a breath and get you caught up on all the rumor mongering from the first half of July.

One of the hottest rumors is that UCLA sophomore forward Andre Patterson is leaving the school for academic reasons and transferring. UCLA assistant coach Jim Saia went on the record to say that Patterson is not transferring. And it's certainly not a done deal. But we've heard that there has been some advanced discussion on where he might transfer, and the strong, early leader for his services appears to be Fresno St. We've also heard that Patterson, if he does leave UCLA, wants to take a trip to Louisville, but we're hearing that he may have already decided on Fresno St.

In other Fresno St. news, it was quite obvious during the past week at the Pump camp and FullCourt Press Summer Shootout that the Bulldogs are enamored with Lorenzo Wade, the #1 ranked shooting guard in the west. Wade, who showed off his terrific upside, was followed everywhere by Bulldog assistant coach Dave Fizdale.

We hear a lot of amazing stories from coaches about out-of-control parents – and experience some ourselves -- but there is one particular parent of a high-profile west coast player who may be setting a new out-of-control standard . This parent reportedly has a long list of demands and at least one elite, high-major school will no longer recruit the player, specifically because of the parent. It's regrettable when a kid's recruitment is potentially damaged as a result of a parent's actions.

One other amazing, west coast story: Russell Otis, the embattled one-time very successful coach of Compton Dominguez, is said to be returning to Dominguez as its head coach. Otis, if you remember, was charged and tried for child molestation charges. He subsequently lost his position as Dominguez's head coach, but then was acquitted of the charges. The word is that the deal is being made to get him back as Dominguez's head coach.

Moving from west coast weirdness to national nightmare…

At the national shoe camps, The King James Circus was one of the most surreal situations we've experienced in college basketball recruiting. LeBron James, the rising senior who is considered the best non-pro player in the U.S. and a seeming lock for the #1 draft pick next season, went considerably Hollywood and overboard during the Nike and ABCD camps. James, not playing because his wrist is in a cast, had been more or less an Adidas kid for a while, having played at the ABCD camp last year and on an Adidas summer traveling team. But he showed up at the Nike Camp this year wearing Nike sneaks, with his crew in tow, decked out in a new football or basketball jersey every day to hold court. He really just sat around and let everyone stare at him while he clowned with his boys. He then made an appearance later in the week at Adidas and had the camp buzzing when he showed up in Nike shoes, which was considered a pretty big snub – and an indication of which shoe camp had secured James as endorser. James then held court at ABCD, with the same crew hanging on him. He held a press conference, flashing what looked like a Rolodex, wearing a "King James" t-shirt, talking arrogantly, and insisting that it's not done that he's going directly to the pros. There was plenty of talk spreading through the Nike and Adidas gyms that week about the circus, including such stories as James and his crew insisting on someone carrying their luggage into the hotel in New Jersey.

The other most interesting buzz around the Nike Camp: The rising freshman, Derrick Caracter, from Fanwood, New Jersey , who measured 6-9 and 285 pounds. The buzz mostly was that Caracter could play. He would be a high-major recruit now, having not played high school basketball yet. Caracter was also an articulate, intelligent and very mature kid in interviews. Hopefully Caracter will retain some – well, character – and not let his situation degrade into a circus over the next four years.

Nike also saw a bit of a novelty show with two 7-3 guys, Shagari Alleyne and Jerry Sokolowski, squaring off in a game. It was indeed a battle of the giants, with Alleyne getting the best of Sokolowski, dunking over him a couple times. Alleyne got better at Nike as the week wore on, and was thought to be the only true-fire first-round-level NBA draft pick at the camp. He has a long way to go, but he has skills and he's 7-3.

Perhaps the second biggest embarrassment of the shoe camp week after the King James circus was the mini-circus of point guard Sebastian Telfair. Telfair, who could be the most talented player in the deep, rising junior class, is catching a bit of the James arrogance. He didn't play particularly well all week at the camp, and then in the underclass all-star game put on a showboat show. He taunted his opponents and shot the ball an astounding 27 times in 15 minutes of playing time.

Back to a little more west coast buzz…

Arizona is looking to secure one of the best recruiting classes in the country this year. The Wildcats are a finalist for the four of the top players in the country, and could realistically get three of them. The Arizona coaches followed around Ndudi Ebi, the talented forward, at the Nike Camp, and didn't miss a game of Mustafa Shakur, the #1 point guard in the country, at ABCD. They are also finalists for elite big men Brian Butch and our own west coaster, David Padgett. Arizona might also be where Ekene Ibekwe lands when it's all said and done.

One player who is picking up a good buzz and will likely have plenty of options is Omar Wilkes. We hear Stanford and Cal are making a big push for the talented guard who played very well at the recent ABCD camp.

Ryan Appleby has an interesting recruiting situation. He has played just okay so far this July evaluation period, and it's affected his recruitment a bit. Florida, apparently, remains interested, but whether the Florida offer is on the table is in question. With Gonzaga out of the picture since they've taken Derek Raivio's verbal commitment, it leaves Appleby with some unusual west coast options. Oregon, apparently, has backed out of the race. Appleby has yet to take the SAT and that leaves Stanford at a loss, unable to recruit him aggressively, if they wanted to, without him having a test score. And a considerably good test score at that. If he took the test in September and got the results back by the beginning of October, and they were Stanford level, that's a bit late in the game. And that's a good deal of "ifs". So, it might be a matter of seeing if he goes to Washington, but the word is that Washington has Aaron Brooks as their top priority at point guard, and Brooks said that the Huskies are among his top three, which also includes UCLA and Oregon. So, Appleby might have to wait to see if Washington would move on him if they didn't get Brooks. It will be very interesting to see how the Appleby recruitment unfolds – and if someone else will get involved.

The Gabe Pruitt transfer rumors have been back and forth for a couple of weeks. The rumor was that Pruitt, a junior guard, was transferring to Westchester, and it was confirmed by a good source. Then, a few days later, the deal had been nixed and Pruitt was staying at Compton Centennial.

More rumors are on the way...


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