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Tuesday / November 12.
  • Josh Christopher throws down dunks, talks recruiting

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    By ADAM ZAGORIA

    NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. — After Josh Christopher threw down a monster two-handed dunk off a lob in Gym 5 at Peach Jam on Thursday afternoon, even Penny Hardaway had to chuckle.

    The Memphis coach stood in the corner and let out a laugh. The fans went wild. This was a highlight-reel play befitting a moment on the SportsCenter Top 10.

    “Oh man, I’ve had a rough first two days at Peach Jam with my jump shot, just kind of been struggling a little bit with my confidence,” Christopher told me afterward. “I’ve been kind of in my head a whole lot, so to find a way to help my team in another way with the dunks that I had, that was great. I feel like my teammates needed a boost from me, so I just had to make something happen when I was on the court.”

    The 6-foot-5 Christopher out of Mayfair (CA) and the Las Vegas Elite is ranked No. 10 by ESPN.com in the Class of 2020. He’s among the most explosive players in the Class of 2020 and a Who’s Who of coaches is watching him here. Kentucky went three deep with John Calipari and two assistants, Arizona was two deep with Sean Miller and an assistant and Arizona State’s Bobby Hurley was on hand with an assistant.

    “I don’t really look at the college coaches when I play, I’m just trying to get W’s,” he said.

    Christopher said Arizona, Arizona State and UCLA are among those recruiting him hard, as is “most of the Pac-12.” He also went into detail on Kentucky and Michigan.

    He broke down several options:

    Arizona State: “I talk to coach [Rashon] Burno all the time. I’m really cool with him, I built a relationship with him. Of course, my brother [Caleb Christopher] being there, that could play a factor in my recruitment, of course. But at the end of the day, that’s my brother’s future. And he did what was best for him going to Arizona State, I gotta do what’s best for me as well. So if Arizona State is the right place for me, or Arizona Tucson is the right place, or wherever, I can go to Alaska and play basketball, I’m going to be the best Josh Christopher I can be.”

    Arizona: Sean Miller and company, they always send me their draft picks and what not, so they clearly understand that they can me to the next level so of course I appreciate that.”

    Kentucky: “Kentucky has reached out a whole lot lately. They haven’t offered me yet. I mean, shoot it’s Kentucky, it’s Calipari, so I think any player that’s in high school appreciates what Calipari brings to the table, so of course myself being a kid who’s always watched Kentucky and watched the guys like Anthony Davis and John Wall, of course you appreciate that and take it into consideration.”

    He added: “I appreciate Calipari and company, coach [Kenny] Payne and coach [Joel] Justus. I appreciate the love they’re showing right now. I’ve worn Kentucky hoodies and stuff like that since I was in elementary school and early middle school so [with my] recruitment I have to calm down with the college clothing I put on. But I’m a fan of Kentucky so we’ll see what happens with my decision for college.”

    UPDATE 7/17: Kentucky offered Christopher several days after Peach Jam.

    UCLA: “That would be crazy to watch ‘Reef [Shareef O’Neal] play. [Their pitch] is to get the opportunity to play with Shareef, stay home, be a neighborhood hero in Southern California. Playing with Shareef, that would be pretty cool. UCLA is like 30 minutes from me.”

    Michigan: “[Juwan Howard] wants me to be the best me that I can be. Of course, he understands that I want to make it to the NBA. He emphasized that he wants me to be in his program and go to the NBA from there. So however long that takes, he said. If I’m there for a year or two years or up to four years, however long I need to prepare myself for the NBA. And just relationship. That was his big thing with me, too.

    “Yesterday, I wore my ‘Stranger Things’ Kyrie customs [sneakers] and he sent me a picture of them back. We were talking about shoes for a quick second, so we definitely have some cool conversations.”

    Christopher isn’t certain on what visits he’ll take going forward, but wants to focus more on recruiting after Peach Jam.

    “I think after Peach Jam I’ll start to make some kind of decisions,” he said, “talk to my family, see what they think, what’s good for me and what’s not, just wait on it.”

    As far as a timetable on a commitment, he’s flexible on that, too.

    He added: “I don’t know, whenever I feel the time is right, I’m just going to go with my heart, honestly. That could be the week after Peach Jam, it could be a year after Peach Jam, so whenever I feel it’s the time, I’ll make that decision.”

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    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.