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.
By ALEX KLINE
When Johnnie Vassar decided to leave his home state of Illinois for prep school in Massachusetts, the state did not forget about the talented guard.
Now a freshman at Lawrence Academy, Vassar is one of the top point guards in the country. On Saturday, he returned home to take an unofficial visit and picked up his first scholarship offer.
“I just finished my visit to Illinois,” he said. “It went really well and they offered me, as well.”
While he has no intentions of speeding up the recruiting process and committing or even naming favorites, the 6-foot guard is enjoying the experience.
“Illinois, Pittsburgh, Temple and Texas A&M are recruiting me,” he stated. “I’m keeping all of my options open but Coach Jerrance Howard, Bruce Weber and the rest of the Illinois staff were great. They are really good people who are down to earth; I really enjoyed my visit.”
Vassar runs with the BABC U15 team on the AAU circuit, where he teams up with Tilton forward Wayne Selden, another highly recruited freshman, who recently picked up an offer from Kentucky.
Although he once sat the bench for an entire AAU Nationals game when he was 11 years old, Vassar keeps it in the back of his mind as motivation to get better. On Saturday, all of his work paid off as Howard, the Illinois assistant, recruited him the hardest of any college coach yet.
A number of commitments took place on Saturday. Three seniors, Chris Martin, Marco Banegas and Casey Carroll, made their college decisions. Martin, a guard from St. Patrick in New Jersey, opted for Marshall. Banegas, a guard out of Brimmer & May in Massachusetts, chose Northeastern, while Carroll of Kiski Prep in Pennsylvania chose Drexel.
Iowa also picked up a commitment from Anthony Hubbard, a junior college standout.
Purdue got in on the fun, as well, when they landed the fourth member of their 2013 class in Derek Willis. Willis, a 2013 forward out of Bullitt East in Kentucky, joins Basil Smotherman, Bryson Scott and Kendall Stephens in Matt Painter’s elite group of Boilermaker sophomores.
2011 guard Kelvin Amayo of NIA Prep in New Jersey returned from his weekend official visit to Rice pleased and happy with the situation. He remains uncommitted.
2013 forward Jabari Parker of Simeon in Illinois flew across the country to Washington where he had a great unofficial visit.
Former Oklahoma commit Richard Peters, a 2012 power forward out of Westwind Prep in Arizona, now boasts offers from Clemson, Tennessee, Memphis, Oregon, Davidson, Georgia, West Virginia, Seton Hall, Marquette, Alabama, Auburn, Washington, Washington State, Indiana and Nebraska.
Another 2012 big man whose recruitment has taken off is Robert Upshaw, a 6-foot-11 center out of San Joaquin in California. Maryland, Tennessee and Arizona all offered him a scholarship this week.
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.