Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Count the Memphis Tigers as the latest team to enter the Kyrie Irving Sweepstakes.
A source close to John Calipari’s program says “Memphis is very interested” in the 6-1 combination guard from St. Patrick of Elizabeth, N.J. St. Pat’s assistant Ray Miller said he wasn’t sure if Memphis had officially offered Irving yet.
“I would be surprised if he doesn’t get more offers from those types of schools,” St. Pat’s coach Kevin Boyle said of Irving. “If he would’ve went to the LeBron (James US Skills Academy), he would’ve had everybody on him.”
Former St. Patrick standout Jeff Robinson will be a sophomore this season at Memphis, so Calipari has proven he can recruit Boyle’s talent-rich program.
A tremendously polished guard with a knack for scoring, Irving also holds offers from Rutgers, Seton Hall, Texas A&M and St. Joe’s. He was named the Most Outstanding Prospect at the Hoop Group Elite Camp and was selected to the Top 20 All-Star Game. Last season, he led Montclair Kimberley to its first-ever New Jersey Prep ‘B’ State title last season, averaging 26.5 points, 10.3 rebounds, 4. 8 assists and 3.6 steals. He had the two highest scoring totals in New Jersey, dropping in 47 points in one game and 48 in another.
“Our team described him as having a Kobe Bryant-like skill set,” said Eastern Christian coach Barry Veenstra, whose team beat Montclair Kimberley in the Non-Public B state tournament despite 29 points from Irving. “He’s unstoppable one-on-one with the turnaround fadeaway from the corner. He buried one with 6-6 Nate Van Eck in his face. The kid just fades away from the double-team and nothing but net, and you walk to the locker room shaking your head, ‘How do you stop that?’”
“Kyrie has a chance to play in the NBA someday,” Sandy Pyonin, Irving’s AAU coach, told Steve Tober of the Montclair Times. “He is an immensely talented and gifted young man, a good student and he comes from a solid family support system.”
MICHAEL GILCHRIST UPDATESt. Patrick sophomore forward Michael Gilchrist is one of the elite players in the Class of 2011 and has already been called a potential future NBA lottery pick by some.
“Based on watching high major-[college players] and NBA kids, Michael fits the same profile as O.J. Mayo, Greg Oden and Kevin Durant” as rising ninth graders, Spencer Pulliam, founder and publisher of the Generation Next Basketball recruiting service, told the Philly Inquirer last year. “He has everything you want in a prospect.”
Many observers expect the 6-7 Gilchrist, a native of Camden County, N.J., to end up at Memphis because of his family’s close relationship with William Wesley, aka “Worldwide Wes.”
“I think a lot of people probably think he likes Memphis,” Boyle said. “Memphis definitely has an outstanding chance to get the kid, but North Carolina, Villanova and Rutgers are recruiting him very hard. Virginia and USC have shown tremendous interest as well.
“I think growing up he liked Memphis without question. (Fellow South Jersey native) Dajuan Wagner went there. I think he’s very interested there, but I don’t think it’s a done deal by any means.”
As for Rutgers’ interest, Boyle said, “They are making a hard play for him. They feel he’s the gem that can put them over the top. ‘If we can get him, he might be the gem that puts us over the top.'”
Gilchrist says he’s not close to committing, though.
“I’d say it’s way off,” he told SI.com. “Because I want to keep my head in the books.”
**In other news related to St. Patrick, Philadelphia 76ers center Samuel Dalembert has parted ways with the Canadian National Team.
(Gilchrist photo courtesy Philly Inquirer)
Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.