The top uncommitted high school basketball players in the country, who were in Chicago for the McDonald’s All-America game last week, have descended upon Portland, Oregon, for Saturday’s Nike Hoop Summit (2 p.m., ESPN2).
Blue-chippers Jaylen Brown, Cheick Diallo and Thon Maker have been talking about the recruiting process, which is sure to heat up now that seven Kentucky players and two Kansas University players have declared for the NBA Draft.
Those expecting one-and-done college careers more than ever want to make sure there’s plenty of playing time available before orally committing.
The month-long late signing period starts next Wednesday.
“I am trying to make a decision maybe (at the) Jordan Game or after the Jordan Game,” Diallo, a 6-9 senior forward from Our Savior New American High in Centereach, New York, told oregonlive.com after a Hoop Summit practice. The Jordan Brand Classic is set for a week from Friday in New York.
“I want to know what players are going NBA and what players are not going. That’s my big thing,” added Diallo, who is considering KU, Kentucky, St. John’s, Pittsburgh and Iowa State and will meet a final time with coaches from those schools next week.
Kentucky signee Skal Labissiere, who stands 7-foot, is Diallo’s Hoops Summit roommate in Portland. Diallo, who is originally from the African country of Mali, played soccer as a youngster, moving to the U.S. to concentrate on a basketball career three years ago. He’s ranked No. 7 nationally by Rivals.com.
“I’ve improved my jump shot a lot and my free throw (shooting) now is excellent,” Diallo said.
Brown, a 6-7 senior wing from Wheeler High in Marietta, Georgia, told oregonlive.com he could slice his list of eight (KU, Kentucky, Michigan, North Carolina, California, Georgia, Georgia Tech, UCLA) while in Portland.
“I’m doing a lot of praying, trying to figure what I want, what is best for me,” Brown said. “As the week goes on I’ll probably be knocking schools off my list. I’m looking to make a decision toward the end of this month.
“There’s a lot goes into the decision. It’s not just the basketball team is good or they have a really good school for education or they put these amount of players in the league. It’s a combined effort. Whoever has the best fit and the combined effort, that’s where I’m probably looking at most.”
Brown has not been shy about his loyalty to adidas, which has sponsored his youth teams. KU, UCLA and Michigan use adidas equipment and gear.
No. 5-rated Maker, 7-foot from Orangeville Prep in Mono, Ontario, who is considering KU, Kentucky, Indiana, Missouri and others, is still in the process of reclassifying from the Class of 2016 to 2015.
Maker told Yahoo.com at the Hoop Summit he will not play pro overseas next season, instead will go to college or a fifth-year prep school. Maker’s guardian, Ed Smith, told ESPN’s Paul Biancardi Maker will finish high school on Aug. 1, thus could enroll at a college for first semester or wait until December for second semester. The plan would be to turn pro after one semester in college.
This, that: Former KU freshman forward Cliff Alexander, who has received some positive and negative Tweets — and positive and negative message board postings regarding his decision to turn pro — obviously doesn’t like the negative ones very much. “Disloyal fans,” followed by a red X was a Tweet of Alexander on Thursday. ... KU coach Bill Self is holding his fantasy camp for adults this weekend. Individuals pay for the right to be coached by the likes of Self and KU’s assistants, plus Miles Simon of ESPN and former college coaches Dino Gaudio, Jerry Wainright, Billy Gillispie and Darrin Horn.