November 2016 | Page 13 of 22 | 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 / June 14.
  • John Calipari says Kentucky plans to sign “five or six” players in the Class of 2017 and won’t comment on any of them until the class is complete.

    “I’m not going to do it until we get everybody and then I’ll go through the five or six,” Calipari said Monday in advance of Tuesday’s game against No. 12 Michigan State in the Champions Classic at Madison Square Garden.

    Kentucky on Monday landed 6-foot-6 combo guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander of Chattanooga (TN) Hamilton Heights Christian Academy.

    Last Thursday, the Wildcats got pledges from a pair of frontcourt players in 6-8 Findlay Prep (NV) forward P.J. Washington and 6-11 Nick Richards of The Patrick School (N.J.).

    From his home in New Jersey, Roselle Catholic coach Dave Boff has watched every one of Kentucky’s televised practices, exhibitions and games this season in order to focus on his former star guard Isaiah Briscoe.

    “I’ve seen him five or six times so far, which is crazy that I can see him that much,” Boff said with a laugh Monday morning. “Everything Kentucky’s on TV.”

    Briscoe and No. 2 Kentucky (2-0) will be back on ESPN Tuesday night when they face No. 12 Michigan State (0-1) in the Champions Classic at Madison Square Garden. No. 1 Duke faces No. 3 Kansas in the nightcap.

    Briscoe, who led Roselle Catholic to the New Jersey Tournament of Champions title in 2015, expects to have a number of family and friends in the crowd, including his father, George Briscoe, and his former AAU coach, Jimmy Salmon of the NJ Playaz.

    Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, a 6-foot-5 1/2 combo guard from Chattanooga (TN) Hamilton Heights Christian Academy, committed to Kentucky on Monday.

    A Canadian ranked the No 2 combo guard in the Class of 2017 by 247sports.com, he also considered UNLV, Texas and Syracuse after decommitting from Florida.

    Alexander averaged a team-high 15.8 points and 4.8 assists for Wings Elite on the Nike EYBL circuit this year.

    “Shai is excited about playing with other great players and being in a position that will help him achieve his ultimate dream and become the best player and point guard he can be,” Hamilton Heights coach Zach Ferrell said Monday. “He’s excited for the challenge and the opportunity that will come with being a Kentucky Wildcat.”

    NEW YORK — Poor Duke.

    They won’t have injured freshmen forwards Jayson Tatum, Harry Giles and Marques Bolden for Tuesday’s game against No. 3 Kansas in the Champions Classic at Madison Square Garden.

    But the No. 1 Blue Devils (2-0) can still roll out a half dozen McDonald’s All-Americans for the game, which follows the matchup between No. 2 Kentucky and No. 12 Michigan State.

    “I don’t know how many McDonald’s All-American’s they have on their team,” Kansas coach Bill Self said Sunday night. “They got three sitting out. They still got [Grayson] Allen, they still got [Luke] Kennard. I think Amile [Jefferson] was a McDonald’s All-American and Frank Jackson was a McDonald’s All-American. [Chase] Jeter was a McDonald’s All-American. They’re still going to have plenty of guys that are capable of playing very well.”

    Don’t forget Matt Jones, coach. He was a McDonald’s All-American, too.

    Tatum and Bolden were McDonald’s All-Americans in 2016, while the injured Giles was not. So all told, Duke has eight on its roster, six of whom will play against Kansas.

    Kris Wilkes, the 6-foot-8 small forward from Indianapolis (IN) North Central, committed to UCLA over Indiana and Illinois on Sunday.

    Assistant coach David Grace gets the assist.

    All signs had pointed to Wilkes picking the Bruins after Brian Bowen cancelled his recent visit to UCLA.

    “When I took my official visit there it just felt right to me,” Wilkes told Scout.com. “I just felt it was the perfect spot and it felt like home. All of the schools recruiting me did a great job, and I thank them very much for their interest, but I was more comfortable with UCLA.

    “I watched a lot of tape and did a lot of research into the roster, and I saw all the centers and power forwards they had on their roster so I knew I’d be playing my position,” Wilkes said. “I was just very confident that I would develop there, and that I could reach my potential in their system.”

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