Kansas University lost one basketball recruit — Myles Turner — to a player’s home-state school while possibly moving a step closer to winning the battle for another — Devonte Graham — on a wild Wednesday in the college basketball recruiting world.
Turner, a 6-foot-11 senior center from Trinity High in Euless, Texas, placed a floppy orange Texas Longhorns hat on his head and uttered the words “University of Texas, baby; hook ’em,” in announcing for coach Rick Barnes’ UT program on ESPNU.
Meanwhile, Graham, a 6-2 senior point guard from Raleigh, N.C., announced via Twitter he’d eliminated Virginia, Virginia Tech and Providence and was down to two schools: KU and hometown university North Carolina State.
“Narrowed my list down to N.C. State and Kansas!” Graham, Rivals.com’s No. 36-rated player nationally, tweeted Wednesday morning.
Asked when he would decide, Graham, who attends Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro, N.H., but is from Raleigh, home of N.C. State, told zagsblog.com, “I’m not sure. I haven’t set a date.”
Brewster coach Jason Smith indicated Graham’s decision “could be this week or it could be next week. I’m not really sure.
“The first time around, Devonte took just one visit to Appalachian State and committed right away,” Smith told Rivals.com. “That could also be why he’s taking his time to make a well-informed and well-educated decision.”
Graham signed with Applalachian State in the fall of 2012, his senior year at Broughton High in Raleigh. Eventually he asked out of his letter-of-intent but was not granted a release by coach Jason Capel.
So he enrolled at Brewster Academy and finally received a release after Capel was fired and Jim Fox hired at Appy State on April 10.
Graham, who averaged 17.2 points and 5.0 assists per game this past season (64 of 157 from three for 41 percent), led Brewster to the national prep championship and New England championship.
Of KU, Graham told zagsblog: “I like the campus and the atmosphere and the players I really got along with, and all the coaches. Basically I would come in and have an impact right away is what I was told.”
Of N.C. State, he told zagsblog: “That’s a big push for them, just playing in front of my family, but I don’t want to make my decision off my family. I want to do the right thing for me.”
Meanwhile, Turner, Rivals.com’s No. 9-rated player, stressed his in-state roots in announcing his decision in his school’s gymnasium. He had also considered KU, Duke, Ohio State, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M; and SMU.
“I’m happy to be a Texan, always been a Texan my whole life,” Turner said. “There’s a lot of pride coming from the state of Texas. To stay in state means a lot to me. I hope to continue that legacy.”
He’s a huge fan of former Longhorn Kevin Durant.
“I’ve admired him since I used to go to camps at the University of Texas when I was younger,” Turner said. “I just wanted to emulate him and his work ethic on and off the court. I was able to hang out with him in fifth or sixth grade, see how he worked. That was huge. Just seeing what he was able to do for that program kind of inspired me a bit.”
KU has one scholarship remaining in a recruiting class that features No. 4-ranked Cliff Alexander, 6-8 from Chicago’s Curie High; and No. 6 Kelly Oubre, 6-7 from Findlay Prep in Henderson, Nev. Despite losing out on Turner, KU has returning frontcourt players in (6-8) Perry Ellis, (6-8) Jamari Traylor, (6-10) Landen Lucas and (6-10) former Arkansas player Hunter Mickelson. Mickelson practiced but could not play in games this past season in accordance with NCAA transfer rules.
KU recruiting Maker: KU’s coaches last weekend traveled to an adidas tournament in Duncanville, Texas, to watch Thon Maker, a 7-foot sophomore from Carlisle School in Martinsville, Va., who is ranked No. 3 in the Class of 2016 by Rivals.com. Duke, Louisville, Kentucky, Wake Forest, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech and many others are also recruiting Maker.
“Kansas spoke to me about the success they had with (Joel) Embiid,” Maker’s guardian, Ed Smith, told zagsblog.com. “They feel that Thon has a different skillset where he is a live threat from the free-throw line in their high-low action. They also feel that in a two-man game, they can roll or pop him. Like Embiid, he’s only been playing for four years to his best basketball is ahead of him.”
Twitter world: Tweets after Turner announced for Texas on ESPNU:
Incoming KU player Cliff Alexander: “We still gone be good y’all don’t trip.” (Before the announcement he tweeted, “Big fella know where he belong.”)
KU’s Landen Lucas: “We’re gonna be just fine y’all.”
Former KU center Joel Embiid: “The BIG 12 goes through Lawrence plus my boy, Wayne Selden Jr., is gonna kill.” (Embiid, by the way, recently tweeted about his back, “Back to 100 percent... Now gotta get in shape (hardest part) but it’s gonna be easy.”)