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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.
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Sunday / July 22.
  • Rutgers in Mix for ‘Nigerian Xavier Henry’

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    The addition of David Cox to the Rutgers basketball staff seems to be paying immediate recruiting dividends and could land the Scarlet Knights what one coach calls the Nigerian version of Xavier Henry.

    Daddy Ugbede, 16, is a 6-foot-7, left-handed Nigerian wing in the Class of 2012 who will enroll this fall at St. John’s College High School in Washington, D.C., the alma mater of Georgetown standout Chris Wright.

    “The frontrunners are Rutgers and Kentucky,” said Joe Boncore, Ugbede’s American trainer and also the mentor for 6-9 Georgetown commit Moses Abraham.

    Boncore said he would try and get Ugbede to Rutgers on a visit sometime in July.

    In previous blogs, Boncore referred to the young man as Daddy Echebo, but says his passport lists his name as Daddy Ugbede.

    “The kid’s really tremendous. He’s a clone of Xavier Henry,” Boncore said, referring to the one-and-done Kansas star who is projected as a lottery pick in the June 24 NBA Draft. “He can play anywhere from the 2 to the 4. He’s strong enough to be a center.”

    Ugbede is currently in Nigeria and Internet reports show him playing with the Union Bank basketball club. In one game he put up 21 points, 17 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 blocks.

    “He’s been on the [Nigerian junior] national team since he was 14,” Boncore said. “He’s just a manchild. He was averaging 43 points a game. Everybody knows about the kid.”

    Boncore said Ugbede is better than Abraham and any of the older Nigerian players with whom he has worked.

    “A lot of kids here from Nigeria, the older kids are like, ‘Yeah, he’s better than me,'” Boncore said.

    Boncore initially said Kentucky and Maryland were leading for Ugbede, but says the young man’s relationship with Cox puts Rutgers right in the mix.

    “Coach Cox has really been on the kid even before last year,” Boncore said.

    “I’m a pretty loyal guy. He’s been talking to him before anybody else. I would really like to see him go there [to Rutgers]. The guy who he’s talked to so far is Coach Cox. They have a good relationship. He’s not committed. He’s still gonna go see these other schools but it looks like that’s where he’s gonna go [Rutgers].”

    KNIGHTS IN MIX FOR DC ASSAULT PLAYERS

    While Ugbede is not formally part of the DC Assault AAU program yet, Boncore says he will play for them because Boncore has a relationship with Curtis Malone, the program’s founder.

    Meantime, DC Assault Director Damon Handon says Cox’s presence at Rutgers has put the school in the mix for several of his top players, including 2011 point guard Quinn Cook (pictured), 2011 point guard Jerome Seagears, 2012 shooting guard Torian Graham, the younger brother of recent Rutgers commit Tyree Graham, and 2012 power forward Jordan Goodman.

    “You can see the impact of Coach Cox being there already in those kids’ recruiting,” Handon said Wednesday by phone.

    The 6-1, 180-pound Cook out of DeMatha High is the No. 4 point guard in the Class of 2011 and Handon says his lengthy list of suitors includes North Carolina, Villanova, UCLA and Georgetown.

    “It wouldn’t surprise me if Rutgers is one of his top five schools,” Handon said, adding that Cook will cut his list down “after July.”

    Handon added that Rutgers will “take one or the other” between Cook and the 6-2, 173-pound Seagears, the No. 25 point in the Class out of Red Springs (N.C.) Flora MacDonald Academy.

    The younger Graham would not be able to play with his brother, Tyree, at Rutgers since the older brother will only have two years on campus.

    Yet Handon says Torian, a 6-4 wing from Hillside (N.C.) High who averaged about 23 points at the Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions, is “definitely going to be a four-star when Rivals comes out with its top 50 players for 2012.

    “I don’t think he has a list right now,” Handon said. “His recruiting is just starting to take off over the next few months. People haven’t seen him play yet.”

    FREE THROWS

    **Myles Mack and Derrick Randall of Paterson Catholic took an unofficial visit Tuesday to Rutgers. Mack, a 5-10 2011 guard, will play for St. Anthony next season, while the 6-9 Randall will prep at South Kent (Conn.)…

    **Former Boston College guard Brady Heslip chose Baylor over Georgetown, Boise State, Oregon and Utah State.

    “Former Grassroots Canada guard Brady Heslip has committed to Baylor,” Grassroots Canada coach Ro Russell told ZAGSBLOG contributor Alex Kline. “He had a great visit and hit it off with the coaches and the players. Coach [Scott] Drew needs a guard who can really shoot and Brady fits that bill. He will sit a year [and] then play unless his waiver grants him immediate eligibility.”…
    **The college rosters for this weekend’s Chris Paul Camp are out and they feature six Big East players and three Duke Blue Devils. The Big East guys are Corey Fisher (Villanova), Scoop Jardine and Brandon Triche (Syracuse), Chris Wright (Georgetown), Darius Johnson-Odom (Marquette) and Kemba Walker (UConn). The Dukies are Nolan Smith, Seth Curry and Kyle Singler…

    **Syracuse docked itself two scholarships in 2009-10 because of its low APR.

    (Photos courtesy Georgetown Athletics, Rivals)

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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, 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.