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November 9, 2012

Five-star leads a West Coast contingent


College basketball's first national signing period begins next Wednesday. That makes this weekend the last chance for schools across the country to make an impression on non-committed seniors looking to sign.

Given that most of those who will sign early are already off the board, it's not a particularly huge visit weekend. But five-star Aaron Gordon leads a contingent of talented West Coasters taking visits, while five-star Noah Vonleh gets his visit process started. Here's our weekly look at what's going on this weekend along with other news and notes from the recruiting trail.

Go West

For now, the plan for five-star forward Aaron Gordon from San Jose (Calif.) Archbishop Mitty is to make a spring decision. This weekend, though, he'll take the final of his planned official visits when he travels to Lexington to check in on John Calipari and the Kentucky Wildcats when they return from their Friday night game in Brooklyn.

There's no reason to suspect that he'll change his plans but what does look to be pretty certain is that Pac-12 schools Washington and Arizona have begun to distance themselves a bit from Oregon, Kansas and California. If anybody can pull Gordon out of the West, Kentucky looks to have the best chance and the Wildcats can change things up with the 6-foot-8 forward's recruitment with a strong visit this weekend.

Another California five-star on the road this weekend is shooting guard Isaac Hamilton from Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco. The 6-foot-5 scoring machine will hit UNLV with his younger brother Daniel Hamilton, a 6-foot-6 wing who ranks No. 20 in the class of 2014.

Like Gordon, Hamilton's plan at the moment is to sign during the spring, and whoever lands the senior Hamilton is likely getting his brother. For the longest time, San Diego State looked to be the clubhouse leader over others such as Washington and UTEP. UCLA has recently become a major factor after Hamilton took a trip to Westwood, and Dave Rice and the Rebels have always been strong with the brothers.

For now, let's assume that a decision will come after signing day but this is a fluid situation that we'll have to monitor closely.

One Californian who will be making an early decision is 6-foot-8 power forward Jordan Bell from Long Beach Poly. The jumping jack four-star will likely announce his college choice on Monday or Tuesday, and this weekend he'll make the cross-country trip to Auburn.

Bell is just a few weeks removed from a strong visit to Eugene to check out Dana Altman's Oregon progam. Tony Barbee and the Auburn staff will be looking to push playing style and available minutes in hopes of beating out the Ducks.

Neither center Kameron Rooks nor combo guard Brandon Randolph rank in the Rivals150, but both will be making high-major visits over the weekend and have been generating big buzz this fall.

A near seven-footer who is the son of former Arizona and NBA center Sean Rooks, Rooks will trip to Washington this weekend. Arizona State and his father's Wildcats have both offered scholarships in the past few weeks. Randolph is a high-scoring and athletic 6-foot-2 combo guard who committed to Pepperdine for a brief time after the July period. This weekend he'll check out Xavier. Chris Mack's squad has made a major impression and if all goes right, Xavier appears to be in strong position secure a commitment from Randolph.

If not, Missouri has gotten involved recently and could get a visit if Randolph doesn't spring for the Musketeers.

Hampton news

Next weekend, we'll see Pete Hutchens' New Hampton (N.H.) Prep program in the season-opening National Prep Showcase in New Haven, Conn. This weekend, New Hampton star Noah Vonleh kicks off the visit process with a trip to Indiana to watch the Hoosiers open their 2012-13 campaign.

Tom Crean's group has been generating a lot of behind the scenes talk with regards to Vonleh, but it would be a huge surprise if he made any kind of decision. He'll be a spring signee.

Recently de-committed from Missouri, Rivals150 point guard Travis Jorgenson is going to take an unofficial visit to Boston College this weekend. Tulsa, Alabama, Gonzaga, Oklahoma State, Illinois and many others have inquired about the pass-first floor general.

Six-foot-8 power forward Tory Miller, who teamed with Jorgenson on KC Run GMC the past few summers before making his way to New Hampton, has decided to reclassify from 2013 to the class of 2014. Miller is a three-star prospect.

Tip-ins

Before hosting Brandon Randolph this weekend, Xavier scored a Thursday night commitment from a four-star junior. In a move that nobody saw coming, 6-foot-7 jumping jack forward Melvin Swift from Houston (Texas) Yates gave a verbal commitment. One of the top run-and-jump athletes in the class of 2014, Swift is a shot-blocker and dunker who flies up and down the court with the speed of a point guard. He needs to develop his offense, but his ability to play way above the rim and a lean frame that will easily carry more weight make him a good fit to play the for in the A-10. Swift ranks No. 58 nationally in the junior class.

As expected, five-star combo forward Jermaine Lawrence confirmed that he'll be signing in the spring. Lawrence also released a final four of UNLV, Syracuse, St. John's and Cincinnati. The list came as a surprise to some because big names like Kansas and Kentucky were omitted, but the four schools that remain have easily been the most active in Lawrence's recruitment.

Another N.Y./N.J.-area five-star who cut down his list this weekend was 2014 shooting guard Isaiah Whitehead. The 6-foot-4 junior at Brooklyn (N.Y.) Lincoln tweeted that he is down to Syracuse, Kentucky, Arizona, Maryland, Florida, UCLA, St. John's, Kansas, Rutgers and Louisville.

The DePaul Demons need help all over the place and they added some size and experience in one fell swoop on Thursday night. Six-foot-8 power forward Greg Sequele from Citrus JC in California committed to play in Chicago. An athletic and mobile big man, Sequele originally signed with Washington State out of high school, but didn't qualify. He is a good rebounder, runs the floor well and doesn't mind playing physical post defense. A three-star prospect, he is the Blue Demons' second JUCO big man to commit after they landed Forrest Robinson last week. They join Rivals150 combo guard Billy Garrett.

Four-star prospects Joel Embiid, Austin Nichols and Tyler Roberson should all have their decisions within the next week.

A product of New Jersey, Nichols should be deciding first and could be off the board as early as Friday evening. Seton Hall is hanging in there but Villanova, Illinois and Miami look to be the primary combatants, with the Wildcats getting the most recent visit from the slender shot-blocker.

A skilled combo forward who also hails from New Jersey, Roberson is down to Villanova, Kansas and Syracuse and should have a decision by Monday or Tuesday of next week. Villanova has been the subject of the most recent talk regarding Roberson but this one is much closer than many believe it to be.

Finally, Embiid is down to Kansas, Florida and Texas. He'll announce his intentions during a ceremony at his high school on Thursday. The race for the rapidly rising center is almost too close to call but Bill Self's Jayhawks just might be emerging as a front-runner.



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