Recruiting Notebook: Buzzer Beater Classic

The 2012 July live recruiting period came to a close with the Hoop Group Buzzer Beater Classic, a first-year event taking place in New York City. The tournament–which ran July 28-29–was littered with Division I talent, many of whom had extremely successful live periods.

The Chicago Mustangs were one of the main stories of the tournament, coming from the Midwest and putting on an impressive show. While the team was bounced in the 17U Gold semifinals by a determined NYC Jayhawks squad, the Mustangs (made up exclusively of players at St. Rita HS in Chicago) had an impressive group of Division I prospects.

Charles Matthews (St. Rita, Ill.), a combo guard with great length and an excellent outside jumper, is only a rising sophomore but already holds three impressive offers. Illinois, DePaul, and SMU have all offered Matthews, and it seems that nearly all of the programs in the Big 10 have been expressing interest.

His brother, Dominique Matthews (St. Rita, Ill.)–a rising junior–also has an offer from SMU, and is being heavily recruited by a number of schools in the MAC, according to St. Rita head coach Gary DeCesare. Vic Law (St. Rita, Ill.), another rising junior, was one of the most impressive players of the tournament but is flying under the radar on the recruiting scene. Law has a Loyola (IL) offer and is drawing interest from Northwestern. The Wildcats kept close tabs on Law at Buzzer Beater.

Sports U had an underwhelming team performance at Buzzer Beater–the 17U and 16U teams both failed to advance past the second round in their respective Gold Brackets–but after a strong summer, several of the team’s players have continued to add Division I offers.

Class of 2013 swingman Spencer Weisz (Seton Hall Prep, N.J.) holds offers from Penn, Princeton, Yale, Brown, Colgate, Holy Cross, Lafayette, New Hampshire, UMBC, Fairfield, and Fordham, and said that his performance at Hoop Group Elite Session II was a main reason for the offers he added in July. Weisz also communicated that he hopes to commit before his senior year begins, meaning he will take all of his visits in August and come to a decision in late August or early September.

Weisz’ 17U teammate Josh Brown (St. Anthony, N.J)–a one-time Temple commit–has re-opened his recruitment and is trying to “compare other schools to Temple.” Brown spoke with Hoop Group and NBC Sports contributor Dan Martin, listing Nebraska, USC, Providence, Illinois, Rhode Island, Richmond, and Xavier as new schools in the mix to go along with the Owls. The rising senior is still considered a Temple lean, and once called the Philadelphia program his “dream school.”

Wade Baldwin (St. Joe’s Metuchen, N.J.), a Class of 2014 guard for Sports U’s 16U, picked up new offers in July from Harvard, Rice, Temple, and Richmond. Baldwin also said that Cincinnati had been expressing significant interest recently. The 6-2 prospect has a Northwestern offer and is high on the program, citing the academic prestige of the Big 10 school. Baldwin explained that he wants to find a good academic situation, along with a head coach who shares his same “passion for the game.”

Alec Brennan Hoop Group

Alec Brennan from Expressions Elite flashing on the high post at Hoop Group Buzzer Beater Classic.

Playing for Expressions Elite 16U, rising junior forward Alec Brennan (Milton Academy, Mass.) is a presence inside at 6-10, but makes his mark as a sharpshooter from outside. Brennan has 16 total offers, and listed new offers from Providence, Seton Hall, and Duquesne. It was also reported that Temple, Delaware, and St. Bonaventure offered Brennan after the Hoop Group Summer Jam Fest (July 20-22). With high-major offers from Miami (FL) and Iowa State, the Class of 2014 prospect said that St. Joseph’s and Boston U are the schools most often in touch, but that he was planning to keep everything open for a while and “enjoy the recruiting process.”

NY Lightning won the 17U Gold Bracket, led by strong performances all weekend from Class of 2013 star Kuran Iverson (Fishburne Military, Va.). A 6-8 wing, Iverson is transferring to Fishburne as he works to improve his academic standing and continue to develop on the court. Iverson said that Florida and Memphis have been the two schools showing the most interest and would likely extend verbal offers in the near future. Other high-major programs that the swingman listed included Indiana, Seton Hall, Oklahoma State, and Kentucky. He plans to take visits to various campuses in August and hopes to become more clear about his college options after those visits are completed.

Iverson’s NY Lightning teammate Dayshon “Scoochie” Smith (Putnam Science Academy, Ct.) is a highly-coveted prospect for many mid-major programs and claims 18 offers, with most coming from programs in the Atlantic 10, MAAC, and Missouri Valley conferences. In terms of high-major looks, the rising senior said that Illinois, Indiana, Alabama, and Nebraska have all expressed interest recently. Smith wants to make a decision in the early signing period, but said that he will ultimately make the call “when he feels comfortable”

Aside from the New York City units defending their home turf, New Jersey teams had a strong presence at Buzzer Beater, and two 6-8 forwards from the Garden State played well throughout the tournament.

Class of 2014 prospect Dominique Uhl (Point Pleasant Beach, N.J) was playing with an AAU team made up of Point Pleasant players at the 17U level Buzzer Beater, and was so impressive that he picked up an offer from Northwestern during the tournament. A 6-8 German import with high-level athleticism and a great upside, Uhl had been hearing mainly from low-major schools before the Wildcats decided to offer at Buzzer Beater.

Neville Fincher (Teaneck, N.J.) is a great athlete with a solid frame, and had a big weekend for NJ Playaz. Fincher claims offers from Providence, Clemson, Old Dominion, Towson, and Robert Morris. The rising senior also said that VCU has been heavily involved, and that he hopes that the Rams offer soon. If VCU did extend an offer, Fincher would immediately place them in his top three, explaining that he is attracted to their high-powered “Havoc” style. Fincher sees himself as a player who thrives in transition, and believes that Shaka Smart’s system would be a great fit at the college level.

Follow Edgar Walker on Twitter: @Edgar_Walker

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