Hoops Recruiting: Kingwood Classic Notes

2009 forward Daniel Orton was one of many OU targets on hand at the Kingwood Classic.

By Adam Fineberg

Kingwood Classic and Oklahoma Recruiting Notes

The Kingwood Classic is the biggest spring tournament in the country featuring teams from coast-to-coast. AAU basketball is the biggest driving force behind college recruiting. Just how big? It is host to over 600 teams and takes place in 40 gyms around North Houston. It is a remarkable job of scheduling and coordination. There are three age groups playing, 17U, 16U and 15U.

The scheduling is so the 17U all play in the most centralized largest gyms. Additionally, it is scheduled so the teams with the best player are all playing very close to each other. Every major coach in the country, including OU's Jeff Capel, makes themselves visible even though "contact" is not allowed with players or parents.   

Verdigris, Okla. guard Rotnei Clark was easily the best shooter on display throughout the whole tournament. He showed more than I expected to see. He is learning how to use the threat of the outside shot to go around defenders. He still won't finish at the rim, but he has a good basketball I.Q. and hit the open man or could pull up for the mid range jumpers. People in the stands were abuzz asking about him.

The gym was loaded to watch the TMAC All-Stars play King of the Court from Ohio.   These two teams are sponsored by two of the biggest names in basketball, Tracy McGrady and LeBron James. I was only was able to catch the first half so I could move to another gym to catch another game.  I wanted to mention though, it was standing room only. Just about every major program in the country was there. Some players of interest to OU fans in this game are G J'Covan Brown, F Steve Tchiengang and C Will Brown.  

OU is very much in the hunt for Tchiengang. He showed a very athletic display and is more than capable of playing inside outside. He still needs a little work on his outside shot, but he makes up for it right now with is athletic body and powerful physique.  

There are some people on the OU staff that very much like the game of Will Brown out of Duncanville.  He was close to committing to a mid major. He has waited, however, and it looks like the decision may have been the right one as he is starting to turn some heads and will have more options as the summer circuit continues.

The Sooner coaching staff was evaluating a post player Saturday afternoon that has slipped through the cracks. Similarly to Bobby Maze being available late last year after going to prep school, there is a post player that is available. OU is still evaluating him, but sometimes players move around so much they can slip through the cracks. I do think they will be offering this coming week and the Sooners will be happy with another big man for the 2007 class.

Athletes First Players to Watch & Interview with Daniel Orton on April 21, 2007

By now, most Sooner fans are familiar with Oklahoma's AAU team — Athletes First.  The only Nike sponsored AAU team in the state, it is where 2007 OU commitments Blake Griffin and Cade Davis shined last year at the Kingwood Classic. Now that Griffin Davis have moved on, a new crop of Oklahoma hoops stars takes center stage. Some of the players to watch are 2009 recruits G Xavier Henry (Putnam City), F Kyle Hardrick (Norman) and F Daniel Orton (Oklahoma City).

Many are familiar with Xavier Henry, whose brother, C.J. was a big name recruit a few years ago before being drafted by the New York Yankees. Xavier is one of the top guards in the country in the 2009 class. In a game that Athletes First lost, he still stayed aggressive offensively. He is very tough to keep out of the paint because of his upper-body strength and leaping ability, and also showed some nice touch from the 3-point line. At press time, many feel he is a lock to Kansas.  

Kyle Hardrick is a true back to the basket player.  He has verbally committed to play for Oklahoma and already the Sooners are fighting off other suitors as he garners more attention. One of the things that was impressive about Kyle was his ability to play high post and pass down to the low block well, as well a score with traditional post moves in the paint. He already has really good footwork and is rated by some as a "top 25" player in his class.

Daniel Orton pairs with Kyle to give this AAU team an opposing frontline. He as well showed some good post moves and played the high-low game well with Kyle.  He has some of the biggest names out there after him and will continue to draw attention.  Daniel took the time after a hard-fought game to answer some questions on the minds of Sooner fans.  

AF: Daniel, can you talk about a little bit about the stage of the recruitment you are in right now? I know it is just starting to warm up for you.

DO: "Right now I am looking at several schools.  Schools are recruiting me hard, sending me text messages and letters. I don't really know where I am at though right now."

AF: What are some of the schools that are contacting you?

DO: "Maryland, Florida, OU, OSU, Baylor.  I can't think of anymore right now."

AF: You and your Athletes First teammate (Kyle Hardrick) seemed to run a nice high-low post game today.  Do you all have any interest of playing together on the next level?  I know he has already verbally committed to OU.

DO: "I don't know yet, I have to see.  I have to see how OU works out and stuff. I don't know right now."  

AF: What are some of the things you are looking for in a college?

DO: "Campus life, basketball history. Is it a football school or a basketball school?"

AF: You have some big shoes to fill on Athletes First coming in behind Blake.  Have you had a chance to talk to him lately?

DO: "I text him every now and again, but I know he get tired of people texting him."  

AF: "Is he helping guide you through the recruiting process at all."

DO: "Yeah, he is."  

Houston Hoops Players to Watch & Interview with Corbin Ray on April 21, 2007

Keith Gallon is certainly someone the Sooners will be taking a look at. This guy needs to work on his conditioning but still looks to be growing into his body. He is a legitimate 6'8, 240.  A monster with soft hands he will certainly be a player to keep an eye on.   

Katy, Texas forward Corbin Ray is another name in the 2008 class to keep an eye on.  In his game against the Arizona Stars, he showed he can do it all. He is long at 6'7 and is still learning how to be an athlete with his size. He is long, rangy and showed he can shoot the ball with a real soft touch. Twice, he put the ball on the floor before pulling up for medium range jumpers and also connected on his two 3-point attempts. Corbin took the time to answer some questions about how his recruiting is going.

AF: Corbin, can you talk a little bit about the stage of the recruitment you are in right now?

CR: "I have a couple from the Big 12.  Texas A&M, Texas, Baylor, and I like OU.  I went and visited OU last summer. That is where I am at right now. I am just seeing how the summer circuit goes."

AF: When you went to Norman last summer, was that when Capel was there or was it the old coaching staff?

CR: "No sir, it was actually right before the coaching change last year."

AF: When are you looking at making a decision, sometime this summer or the second signing period?

CR: "Me and my family are looking at committing this summer and signing in November."  
AF: What are some of the things you are looking for in a program?  Is it coaches, is it campus life, is it scheme?

CR: "Really, everything.  We want the campus life to be good.  I want to fit into the system and find the school that is just right for me."

AF: You should not have a hard time fitting into many systems with that good inside outside game. Have some of the coaches that have talked with you have they said where they would like to play you?

CR: "We have not really got into the specifics, but I know how Texas Tech plays with the motion offense everybody plays everywhere. I have not really talked to the A&M coaches or the OU coaches about where I could be playing.

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