Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Former USC recruits starting to make decisions

With Tim Floyd leaving USC and the wrath of the NCAA descending upon Troy, the Trojans have been hemorrhaging recruits. All told, USC lost three commits from the class of '09 (not including the morally ambiguous Renardo Sidney).

But those three guys have to end up some where, and they seem to be making their decisions.

  • Noel Johnson, 6'7" SF, #53 Rivals, #56 Scout: After flirting with a number of schools, including UNLV, UNC-Charlotte, Xavier, and both Georgia and Georgia Tech, Johnson finally settled on Clemson as his destination. This is a great signing for the Tigers. For starters, Johnson is known for his shooting and scoring ability, and with KC Rivers graduating and Terrence Oglesby headed to Europe, Oliver Purnell really needed a wing scorer/shooter.

    What might be more important is that Johnson is a long, lean, and athletic 6'7", which means that he should fit right into the Tiger's pressing defense (as opposed to Oglesby, who never fit in with Purnell's system). Johnson will compete with Tanner Smith and David Potter to start on the wings alongside Demontez Stitt. With the Tigers excellent frontline (Trevor Booker, Jerai Grant, and Raymond Sykes return, while Purnell added top-25 recruit Milton Jennings and Trevor's younger brother Devin), Johnson may have been the missing piece.

  • Lamont "Momo" Jones, 5'11" PG, #68 Rivals, NR Scout: It seems that Momo has settled on two schools: Florida and Arizona. Last week, he visited both campuses, but he has yet to announce a decision on where he will play (for the record, this will be his fifth commitment - he backed out on Virginia Tech last March, committed and de-committed from Louisville twice, and has now left USC).

    Originally, it looked like Memphis was going to end up being the front runner, but the Tigers backed off of their recruitment of Jones after they signed the Barton brothers. Antonio Barton is a PG, and Memphis's #1 target in the class of '10 is a local kid named Joe Jackson, who is a top 25 recruit.

    This will be a tough decision for Momo. While both Florida and Arizona are excellent programs with a great tradition of winning, both are expected to have a down year next year. But Jones would be a valuable addition to either school. Florida lost Nick Calathes to Greece, which combined with the decision by Jai Lucas to transfer has left Florida a bit shorthanded in their backcourt. Jones would probably see a lot of minutes off the bench as he would back up Kenny Boynton and Erving Walker.

    But the situation could be even better in Arizona. Known as Point Guard U, Arizona currently has a future pro starting at the point and a coach that was a phenomenal lead guard when he was in college. Tell those two wouldn't be great to learn under. And with Nic Wise graduating at the end of the season, Jones stands to inherit the starting job as a sophomore.

  • Derrick Williams, 6'7" F, NR Rivals, #32 PF Scout: Williams was not as highly recruited as Jones or Johnson, as he failed to crack Rivals top 150 and Scouts top 100. But that doesn't mean he can't be an effective player at the next level. Right now, Williams is more of an athlete than a basketball player. He is a versatile wing that can play a little at both of the forward spots. He seems to be one of those guys that gets by right now on instincts and savvy as opposed to being a more skilled player.

    As we speak, Williams is in Memphis on an official visit, although he, too, is also looking at Arizona. I think Memphis would be a much better fit for Williams. I'm not quite sure what to expect from Pastner as a head coach (what kind of system will he run?), but given the make-up of the roster at Memphis, he more than likely will run something similar to what Coach Cal was running. Spread the floor, get out and play tough defense, and let athleticism take over. Williams should be a perfect fit.

    That said, Sean Miller seems to love guys with Williams' skill set (see Derrick Brown or CJ Anderson), and Arizona is much closer to California, where Williams grew up.

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