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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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Thursday / February 22.
  • NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. — Shortly after 9 a.m. Monday, a Who’s Who of college  coaches assembled in Gym 1 here at the Riverview Park Activities Center to watch the Oakland Soldiers 17U AAU team.

    Sitting courtside were Roy Williams (North Carolina), Bill Self (Kansas), Gary Williams (Maryland), Paul Hewitt (Georgia Tech), Ben Howland (UCLA), Fran McCaffery (Iowa), Craig Robinson (Oregon State), Tony Bennett (Virginia), Tony Barbee (Auburn), John Beilein (Michigan), Jeff Capel (Oklahoma), Kevin O’Neill (USC), Mike Montgomery (Cal) and Dana Altman (Oregon), among others.

    “It’s pretty good,” said Nick Johnson, a senior guard with the Soldiers and Findlay (Nev.) Prep. “Just coming from LeBron [James Skills Academy], that was the big stage. All of them were there so I kind of got used to it. It takes some getting used to, but I think I’m used to it now.”

    NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. – Derrick Randall may pull the trigger before the summer ends.

    The 6-foot-9 senior, 225-pound who will spend his final year at South Kent (Conn.) after competing at Paterson (N.J.) Catholic says Rutgers leads his list right now.

    “I like Rutgers a lot,” Randall, a Brooklyn native, said at the Peach Jam after the Playaz beat California Supreme, 80-49, behind Kyle Anderson’s 17 points, 11 rebounds and 6 assists, Myles Mack’s 16 points, Desmond Hubert’s 12 and Randall’s 7 points and 7 boards .

    “I’m probably going to be making my decision in August deciding where I’m going to be committing to and then sign in the [fall].”

    NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. – Anthony Davis has cut his list to three schools but he may be adding North Carolina very soon.

    Carolina head coach Roy Williams watched the 6-foot-10, 195-pound Chicago Perspectives forward put up 18 points, 7 rebounds, 5 steals and 4 blocks in a 55-34 blowout victory Monday over Team Florida here at the Peach Jam.

    “I hope he’s taking notes on me,” Davis said of Williams after the game. “I just have to play hard, try to show him what I can do on the offensive end and on the defensive end.”

    Ohio State coach Thad Matta was also front and center at the Riverview Park Activities Center for the morning game, as was Syracuse assistant Bernie Fine. Kentucky coach John Calipari made an appearance for Davis’ evening game.

    The Nets failed to land LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh or Amar’e Stoudemire in free agency.

    But New Jersey did add somebody with not one, but two world championship rings.

    The Nets announced Sunday that they had signed free agent guard Jordan Farmar. He will reportedly earn $12 million over three years.

    “Jordan will be an excellent complement to Devin [Harris] in the backcourt,” said president Rod Thorn. “He comes to the Nets with championship pedigree, which will prove to be invaluable to his teammates.”

    Walter Pitchford Jr., a 6-10 forward/center from Grand Rapids, Mich., will finally get released from his Letter of Intent to DePaul.

    “Coach [Oliver] Purnell called tonight [Sunday] and said he’ll be releasing Walter in the next couple of days,” Walter Sr. said by phone.

    The NCAA recently denied Pitchford’s appeal for a release.

    Pitchford initially told ZAGSBLOG he wanted out due to the coaching change that brought in Purnell as the new coach and also because of concerns about crime in the Chicago area.

    “We were very thankful [for the release],” Pitchford Sr. said. “It’s been frustrating but we’re thankful and we’re just going to move on. We thank DePaul for everything they’ve done. DePaul is a fine instituation and we wish them great success.”

    By JASON BELZER

    Their eyes dart back and forth, trying in vain to keep up with the hazy bodies of the young men laboring their way up and down the court. One after another, they pull out handkerchiefs and frantically wipe away the drops of sweat that role down their foreheads and into their eyes, obscuring their vision, until they realize it is a futile effort in this scorching heat. You can catch them glancing down at their wrists more than the court, hopelessly willing the hands of their watches to move faster towards the afternoon hour and a break from the dreadfulness. One wonders why anyone would subject themselves to such circumstances, especially men of such perceived fame and stature, but alas, such is the life of the college basketball coach on the summer recruiting trail.

    Nobody knows European talent better than ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla.

    So I asked Fraschilla to chime in on UConn’s two new German recruits, 7-foot-1 center Enosch Wolf and 6-6 forward Niels Giffey.

    “The big guy would be a Top 200 prospect here in the States,” Fraschilla said of Wolf. “He’s a ways off. He’s not on the national team. He’s not really on their radar. He’s probably 6-11 1/2, 7 -feet. He’s fairly skilled, thin, needs to bulk up. He runs fair. He’s an intriguing prospect but shouldn’t be a factor for a while.

    “Giffey is a very good, athletic 6-6  swingman that can shoot the ball. He would probably be a Top 100 prospect if he was coming out of high school now.

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