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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 / May 20.
  • Noel Holds Major Offers; Recruiting Roundup

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    By ADAM ZAGORIA & ALEX KLINE

    At 6 feet 10 inches and with natural shot-blocking abilities, Nerlens Noel may well be the best defensive player in the Class of 2013.

    “Nerlens has cat-like reflexes, incredible instincts, quickness, reflexes for a guy his size,” said Tilton (N.H.) School coach Markus O’Neil. “He has uncanny shot-blocking ability.

    “He can do a lot just naturally on defense. He’s got a decent frame on him. He needs to continue to get stronger and build his offensive skills.”

    O’Neil said Kentucky, Georgetown and Syracuse have offered Noel and other major programs are involved. John Calipari, John Thompson III and Jim Boeheim have all been through to check out Noel, the No. 6 prospect in the Class of 2013 per Rivals, and teammate Wayne Selden, a 2014 small forward.

    “Those schools have all been in,” O’Neil said. “Those guys are heavyweights.”

    Michigan, Iowa State and Providence are also involved.

    “We put the word out there that Nerlens is going to start thing seriously about college at the end of this summer,” O’Neil said. “It’s too early. He’s not thinking about it yet.”

    DJIMDE TO ILLINOIS

    Ibrahima Djimde, a 6-9, 250-pound big man from Huntington (WV) Prep, will sign Monday with Illinois.

    He chose the Illini over Duquesne, Indiana and Old Dominion, per Huntington coach Rob Fulford.

    “Illinois is getting a very good player in Ibby,” Fulford said. “He rebounds and defends at a very high level. He will be an instant impact post player for Coach [Bruce] Weber].

    “He has greatly improved his face-up game and mid-range jumper. As this part of his game continues to develop, he will be able to move to the power forward spot.”

    CHRIS WALKER BLOWING UP

    During the fall, Chris Walker was considered one of the top sophomores in the country. Since AAU basketball started this spring, the 6-9 forward has impressed scouts, coaches and competitors who once doubted him, just as he once doubted himself.

    The 2013 star out of Holmes County in Florida said, “I never thought that I would have a chance to actually play college ball one day.”

    Walker, who used to reach out to Calipari and numerous scouts through Twitter, wanted to prove everyone that he deserved a shot to be the best.

    “I wanted to try to get Kentucky and everyone else to check me out and find out who Chris Walker is,” he said.

    Now, it appears as if everyone knows who this athletic freak is.

    Baylor and Mississippi offered the native of Bonifay this week. The Bears and Rebels join an elite list of schools who have offered, including Florida State, Florida and Alabama. He also has interest from Kentucky, Kansas, Syracuse, UConn and Ohio State. A fair number of those teams are close to offering.

    The 2013 star speaks his mind and has always considered staying close to home by going to Florida or Kentucky. However, he remains wide open in his mind.

    “I’m just an open prospect looking for scholarships and interest,” he said.

    Walker, who began dunking in the fifth grade, hopes to cut his list down by the end of the summer and take more visits. Sooner or later, Coach Calipari will offer the sophomore who used to Tweet him all the time asking for looks. Now, Coach Cal is watching Walker in action and Walker has a smile on his face because of that.

    RECRUITING RUNDOWN

    2011 guard Shaq Stokes of Lincoln High in New York is considering two schools that are extremely different from his hometown. Stokes took an official visit to Colorado State earlier in the week and landed in Hawaii for another official visit on Thursday night. With TCU and Western Kentucky out of the race for him, it appears to be a 2-team race at the moment.

    Another 2011 guard took two official visits this week. Kelvin Amayo of NIA Prep took a trip to Towson on Tuesday and left for the College of Charleston on Thursday night. Both Pat Skerry and Bobby Cremins have impressed the Newark guard. Seton Hall is also involved with Amayo, who will announce this week on ZAGSBLOG.com and SNY.tv.

    2012 guard Charles Mann of Union Grove in Georgia is set to take an unofficial visit to Georgia Tech on Wednesday. He recently picked up an offer from the school he considers to be his “dream school”, UConn.

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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.