January 2012 | Page 21 of 28 | Zagsblog
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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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Monday / July 15.
  • Former Pittsburgh forward Khem Birch is headed to UNLV in what could be the makings of a big 2012 class for the Rebels.

    The former McDonald’s All-American committed Monday after visiting the campus with his mother, Wendy Sparks, and CIA Bounce coach Mike George.

    The 6-foot-9 Birch also considered Florida and New Mexico State.

    “I really like UNLV,” he told Alex Kline of The Recruit Scoop. “It was a very tough decision but UNLV is a good fit for me because of the coaches, players and facilities. I will be able to train during my time off. Also, I can develop under a great, young coach in Dave Rice. He and the entire staff made me feel very comfortable in Las Vegas.”

    Former Texas A&M guard Jamal Branch verbally committed to St. John’s.

    “I chose St. John’s because I think it’s a perfect fit for me,” Branch told SNY.tv by text.

    “They have a great coaching staff who I feel can help me a lot with my game. Those guys are like teachers in a classroom but teachers of the game. They know so much about the game.”

    The 6-foot-3 Branch, from Arlington, Texas, averaged 4.2 points and 2.5 assists in 18.6 minutes a game as the backup to senior point guard Dash Harris.

    NEW YORK — The Knicks could get a major jolt to their backcourt and their offense by the end of this month in the form of Baron Davis.

    Asked before Monday night’s 91-87 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats about a timetable on Davis, Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni said, “”The end of January, more or less.”

    Carmelo Anthony, who scored nine of his 22 points in the fourth quarter, sounded excited about the prospect of getting Davis back.

    “That’s big, that’s big,” he said. “But until that happens we still gotta keep getting better, do what we have to do out there on the basketball court, offensively and defensively.

    “And when Baron comes back, just pick up where we need him to pick from.”

    Now that Seton Hall is ranked in the Top 25 for the first time in more than a decade, Bob Hurley says it’s truly signaled a changing of the guard at Seton Hall.

    “This is the Kevin Willard Era; it’s no longer Bob Gonzalez hangover,” the Naismith Hall of Fame coach told SNY.tv Monday.

    “Things are going very well. It’s going to absolutely have an effect [on recruiting] just because the average person is aware of this right now.”

    Willard now has an excellent chance to do something Gonzalez never did in his turbulent four-year tenure that ended with his firing in 2010: take the Pirates to the NCAAs. 

    Seton Hall is ranked in the Top 25 for the first time in more than a decade.

    Rutgers has knocked off two Top 10 opponents in the last two weeks.

    All of that is good news for New Jersey’s Big East programs in terms of recruiting, but they must keep up the winning.

    “In my opinion, the best kids in the state will start looking at Rutgers and Seton Hall when they start winning consistently,” said Roselle (N.J.) Catholic coach Dave Boff, whose team has one of the top juniors in the state in 6-foot-7 forward Tyler Roberson. (Read his player blog here.)

    The last time Seton Hall was ranked in The Associated Press Top 25 poll, George W. Bush had just succeeded Bill Clinton as President, 9/11 hadn’t happened yet and the Yankees were the three-time defending World Series champions.

    Now, for the first time since Jan. 30, 2001, the Pirates are ranked in the Top 25, although they are not ranked in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll.

    Seton Hall checks in at No. 24 in the AP poll after compiling a 14-2 record that included last Tuesday’s 75-63 upset of then-No. 8 UConn. The Huskies fell to No. 17 in the poll.

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