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.
“My cousin goes to that school, Travon Woodall,” the 6-foot-3 Epps, a junior at Plainfield (N.J.) High, said of Pitt. Epps is high on Pitt “because they [are in the] Big East and I want to start. They told me I can start as a freshman.”
He also took an unofficial visit to Maryland this summer.
“It was real good, I liked the campus,” Epps told me. “I like how they said that as soon as I go in there, I’m going to be starting right away. I like the academics, the schoolwork. I like all of it.”
“This is the guard they’ve targeted in the Class of 2010,” former Plainfield coach Pete Vasil said. “They’re looking for him to play major minutes.
Epps, who averaged 16.5 points, 6.4 assists, 5.0 rebounds and 3.6 steals for a Cardinals team that finished 18-7, plans to take some time before deciding, though.
“I’m still young, so I don’t know what school I’m looking for right now,” he said.
He also holds offers from Rutgers, Seton Hall and St. Joe’s and is hearing from Texas, UCLA, Michigan and Ohio State, Playaz director Jimmy Salmon said.
“That makes me feel good,” Epps said. “That shows me that I’m doing a good job at what I’m doing.”
RUTGERS SCORES IN RANKINGS **Clark Francis released his Final Rankings of the Class of 2008 and Rutgers scored, with 6-9 Greg Echenique of St. Benedict’s at No. 15 and Mike Rosario of St. Anthony at No. 19. Read my interview with Echenique here.
**Other players with local connections in the Top 100 include No. 4 Samardo Samuels of St. Ben’s (Louisville); No. 13 Kemba Walker of Rice (UConn); No. 28 Sylven Landesberg of Queens Holy Cross (Virginia); No. 30 ERving Walker of Christ the King (Florida); No. 39 Kevin Jones of Mount Vernon (West Virginia); No. 41 Tyshawn Taylor of St. Anthony (Kansas); No. 43 Mookie Jones of Peekskill (Syracuse); No. 83 Travon Woodall of St. Anthony (Pitt); No. 87 Ashton Gibbs of Seton Hall Prep (Pitt).
**Francis also had Mike Gilchrist, a 6-6 sophomore wing forward at St. Patrick in Elizabeth, N.J., ranked as his No. 1 overall player at the LeBron James Skills Academy, followed by No. 2 John Wall, No. 3 John Henson; No. 4 Dontae Taylor and No. 5 Harrison Barnes.
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.”
“Memphis’ style of play fits my game,” Gilchrist told Rivals.com.
“I think a lot of people probably think he likes Memphis,” St. Patrick head coach Kevin 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.” Oregon, Seton Hall, Baylor and New Mexico have also have offered).
“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.”
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.