The biggest surprise in Conference USA basketball recruiting
during the early signing period was not the addition of a new name for one
of the league’s schools.
Instead, it was about the big one that got away. Big in size
James Lang, the 6-10, 325-pound center from Birmingham (AL)
Central Parkway Christian, committed to Louisville in August after saying he
had always loved the Cardinals and their coach, Rick Pitino.
But when the Nov. 13-20 signing week rolled around, there
was no signature from the big guy. His mother is saying Lang could end up at
Kentucky or Alabama. He has visited Kentucky.
And don’t rule out the possibility of Lang skipping college
and going straight to the NBA. Ranked the No. 16 senior in the country by
Prepstars.com, he has grabbed the attention of pro scouts with his mobility
and good hands.
UAB and Southern Miss got on the map after not having a
commitment entering this month. The Blazers signed junior college twins
Bonell and Donell Taylor, while the Eagles got power forward Emanuel Willis,
who is No. 132 on the high school seniors list.
A total of 38 prospects signed with Conference USA schools
during the fall period. Memphis, DePaul and Tulane led the way with five
signees apiece, with Houston getting four.
The only name on an East Carolina letter of intent in the
fall is Keith Foster. The 6-9 power forward from Winston-Salem scored 20
points and pulled down nine rebounds in his season opener.
Ray George, a 6-4 combination guard from Virginia Beach (VA)
Coastal Christian Academy, was sold on Georgia State by Panthers' head coach
Lefty Driesell after being pursued by
ECU, Georgia, Memphis and others. George’s favorite was Cincinnati, but the
Bearcats stopped calling when they received a commitment from juco wing
guard Nick Williams.
Cincy is getting a Nov. 22-24 visit from James White, who
announced two weeks ago that he is transferring from Florida. White, a 6-7
small forward, was the No. 10 prospect in the class of 2001.
Memphis added two more recruits in Ivan Lopez and Keena
Young. Lopez, a 6-8 power forward from Norfolk (VA) Ryan Academy, is the No.
Young, a 6-7 power forward, is the teammate of fellow Tiger
signee Kendrick Perkins. Perkins, a 6-9 center/power forward, is ranked No.
4 in the nation. He is averaging 30 points, 15 rebounds and 14 blocked shots
for Beaumont (TX) Ozen through two games.
Tulane’s fifth newcomer is 6-8 Kory Castine, a power forward
from Gretna (LA) Archbishop Shaw.
Here is the complete list of C-USA hoops signees as we have
CHARLOTTE (2) — Martin Iti, 6-11 center, Durham (NC)
Mount Zion Christian Academy; Marcus Bennett, 6-3 wing guard/point
guard, Schoolcraft Junior College.
CINCINNATI (3) — Nick Williams, 6-3 wing guard, Chipola
Junior College; Robert Whaley, 6-10 center, Barton County (KS) Junior
College; Mike Pilgrim, 6-7 power forward, Wolfeboro (NH) Brewster
DePAUL (5) — Sammy Mejia, 6-5 wing guard/point guard,
Cornwall on Hudson (NY) Storm King; Tyler Smith, 6-2 wing guard, Colora
(MD) West Nottingham Academy; Wesley Green, 6-9 center, Eustis (FL) High
School; Marcus Heard, 6-6 small forward/power forward, Springfield (IL)
Southeast; Lorenzo Thompson, 6-7 power forward, Chicago (IL) Crane Tech.
EAST CAROLINA (1) — Keith Foster, 6-9 power
forward/center, Winston-Salem (NC) Reynolds.
HOUSTON (4) — Lanny Smith, 6-3 point guard, Missouri
City (TX) Hightower; Parker Pinkalla, 6-4 wing guard, Houston (TX)
Strake Jesuit College Prep School; Andrew Francis, 6-7 small forward,
Houston (TX) Elsik; Darrius Brannon, 6-9 power forward, Baytown (TX) Lee
LOUISVILLE (3) — Brandon Jenkins, 6-2 point guard/wing
guard, Detroit (MI) Southeastern; Nouha Diakite, 6-10 power forward,
Barton County Junior College; Nate Daniels, 6-8 small forward/wing
guard, Broward Junior College.
MARQUETTE (3) — James Matthews, 6-7 power forward,
Detroit (MI) Denby; Dameon Mason, 6-5 small forward/wing guard, Aurora
(IL) West; Brandon Bell, 5-11 point guard, Detroit (MI) Southwestern.
MEMPHIS (5) — Kendrick Perkins, 6-11 center, Beaumont
(TX) Ozen; Sean Banks, 6-7 small forward, Oradell (NJ) Bergen; Michael
Ford, 6-8 small forward, Fitchburg (MA) Notre Dame; Ivan Lopez, 6-8
power forward, Norfolk (VA) Ryan Academy; Keena Young, 6-7 power
forward, Beaumont (TX) Ozen.
SOUTH FLORIDA (2) — Ricardo Freeman, 6-3 point guard,
Seward County Community College; Konimba Diarra, 6-10 center, Centereach
(NY) Our Savior New America.
TULANE (5) — Chris Moore, 6-4 wing guard, Pittsfield
(ME) Central Institute; Troy Aaron, 6-0 point guard, Lake Charles (LA)
St. Louis; Vincent Camper, 6-3 point guard, Oxford (MS) High School; Dan
Fitzgerald, 6-8 small forward/power forward, Mendota Heights (MN) St.
Thomas Academy,; Kory Castine, 6-8 power forward, Gretna (LA) Archbishop