November 2014 | Page 12 of 19 | 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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Friday / July 19.

    NEW YORK — On the same day that Isaiah Briscoe officially signed his NLI with Kentucky — ending any dreams of a change of course in the Johnnies’ favor come spring — St. John’s began anew at Carnesecca Arena.

    The Red Storm — who know this season is about making the NCAA Tournament or bust — controlled the game from the start and came away with a 77-58 victory over NJIT.

    Sophomore guard Rysheed Jordan went for 18 points and five assists and junior center Chris Obekpa posted a double-double with 13 points, 13 rebounds and 4 blocks.  Sir’Dominic Pointer added 13 points and 10 rebounds, and D’Angelo Harrison scored 10 for St. John’s.

    “Our goal is to win more games than we did last year because that wasn’t enough,” Harrison said, referencing the team’s NIT appearance a year ago. “That’s our entire team’s mindset.”

    Briscoe signingWith Isaiah Briscoe, Skal Labissiere and Charles Matthews all now signed with Kentucky, John Calipari chimed in on yet another recruiting class ranked No. 1 in the nation.

    “All three of these players had dreams to play at Kentucky,” Calipari said. “Those dreams are now a reality. We didn’t have to beg any of them. They wanted to be here. They are all different, yet collectively they will complement each other nicely. It’s a great start to what could be a super class again.”

    Briscoe, a 6-foot-3 guard from Roselle (N.J.) Catholic, had initially said he wouldn’t sign his NLI until the spring but did sign one to Kentucky.

    “We are very excited for Isaiah and his decision to sign with Kentucky,” RC coach Dave Boff told “He’s looking forward to the opportunity to play at one of the premier programs in the country.”

    Briscoe picked Kentucky over St. John’s and UConn Thursday on ESPNU. He won a gold medal with Team USA at the 2014 FIBA Americans U18 Championships. He averaged 22.1 points, 4.0 assists, 3.9 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game during his junior season at Roselle Catholic High School.

    T.J. Leaf, a 6-foot-9 2016 face-up forward from El Cajon (CA) Foothills Christian, will announce his college choice next Friday, Nov. 21, his father confirmed to

    “We’re going to do it at noon on Friday West Coast time,” Brad Leaf said by phone after it was first reported by

    “We’re just going to get it done. T.J.’s not all about this and he wants to be done with it.

    The No. 3 power forward in the Class of 2016 according to 247Sports composite rankings, Leaf is down to a final six of UCLA, Arizona, Duke, Michigan, Florida and San Diego.

    EnglishNEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. — On the last day of the spring recruiting period in 2012, Iona associate head coach Jared Grasso showed up at St. Thomas More in Oakdale, Conn., to watch a prospect named A.J. English.

    Although Dayton and La Salle were interested, the 6-foot-4 English didn’t have a single scholarship offer at that point even though he had averaged 18 points a game in his postgraduate year at St. Thomas More.

    “We heard he could score the ball and he had a big reputation as a scorer,” Grasso recalled Tuesday at Iona. “I walk in the gym and he made just about every shot the whole day. And I was shocked the kid was still available.”

    BEn SimmonsBen Simmons, the No. 1 player in the country on the ESPN 100, signed his Letter of Intent with LSU on Wednesday but he may only be on campus for a year.

    The 6-foot-10 Australian is projected as the No. 2 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft by Jaylen Brown, who has yet to pick a college, is listed as No. 1.

    “It really depends,” he told ESPNU Thursday night. “It just depends on how the season goes. If I’m ready to go to the next level then definitely I’ll look at my options. But I’m focusing on this season right now. We have my last high school season [at Montverde Academy] so I really just want to do as well as I can for the team and my coaches here.”

    Briscoe Peach Jam 2By ADAM ZAGORIA & CHRIS RUSSELL

    With the additions Thursday of Isaiah Briscoe and Skal Labissiere, Kentucky now has the No. 1 recruiting class for 2015, according to

    The Wildcats are followed by No. 2 Arizona, No. 3 Texas A&M, No. 4 Syracuse and No. 5 Marquette.

    The Wildcats are also No. 1 in the preseason polls.

    Not a bad life.

    Kentucky remains in the mix for many top prospects, almost all of whom will sign in the spring, including ESPN’s No. 2 Jaylen Brown, No. 3 Malik Newman, No. 5 Ivan Rabb, No. 7 Cheick Diallo, No. 8 Caleb Swanigan, No. 10 Stephen Zimmerman, No. 12 Brandon Ingram, No. 14 Antonio Blakeney and No. 18 Carlton Bragg.

    Also, keep in mind that after landing New Jersey’s No. 1 player in the Class of 2015, Kentucky is also squarely in the mix for the No. 1 player in 2016 in Tyus Battle. Watch his story here.

    And here’s an updated look at their Recruiting Board.

    Thursday was a huge day in recruiting as Isaiah Briscoe and Skal Labissiere both picked Kentucky, Derrick Jones declared for UNLV and Tevin Mack picked VCU.

    Still, seven of the Top 10 players in the ESPN 100 — and 11 of the top 20 — remain undeclared. Many of them except for Diamond Stone (pictured) and Brandon Ingram are expected to commit in the spring.

    1. Ben Simmons, PF, LSU
    2. Jaylen Brown, SF, Undeclared
    3. Malik Newman, SG, Undeclared
    4. Henry Ellenson, PF, MARQUETTE
    5. Ivan Rabb, PF, Undeclared

    } });