N.Y. standouts on Tigers' radar
By Dan Wolken
June 3, 2007
After spending most of his coaching career in the Northeast, John Calipari has brought a steady stream of players from the New York/New Jersey metro area to the University of Memphis, including incoming freshman Jeff Robinson.
Now, with Chuck Martin and Rod Strickland being added to the coaching staff within the past year, Memphis is as entrenched as ever in the New York recruiting scene.
That was evident last weekend at the AAU Nike Memorial Day Classic in Nashville, where the New York Gauchos finished runner-up in the 17-and-under division. Several highly-rated players on that team are being recruited by Memphis, and three of them said they would likely make visits to campus later this year.
"They're in my top three," said Jordan Theodore, a top-100 guard prospect.
"They play my style of game," said Kemba Walker, a hard-nosed guard who was one of the tournament's most impressive players.
"They're definitely on my list," said Durand Scott, a long 6-3 guard ranked 34th by Rivals.com in the class of 2009.
Though Memphis coaches can't talk about recruits per NCAA rules, it's easy to draw the connection between the current coaching staff and that trio.
Strickland, the Tigers' director of student-athlete development, played for the New York Gauchos in the mid-1980s before going to DePaul and ultimately a long NBA career.
And Martin is a native of the Bronx who coached at two of the city's top programs and most recently at St. John's. In fact, Walker said Martin began recruiting him when he was still coaching under Norm Roberts at St. John's.
It's unclear exactly where those players fit into Memphis' plans for the upcoming year. Calipari has said he wants to sign as many as three more players for 2008. The top targets for this class appears to be DeAndre Liggins, a guard out of Chicago and St. George's guard Elliot Williams.
If Memphis can't get either player, Theodore and Walker are exactly the kind of fearless, scrappy guards who would fit well in the Tigers' driving motion offense.
The real prize of the class, however, is Scott, who is eligible to play with the 16-and-under team but is playing "up" on the AAU circuit this summer. Scott showed the ability to attack, defend and rebound, which means he will be highly coveted by most of the major programs in the country.
Though Scott said he doesn't watch much college basketball, he was familiar with Memphis.
"From what I've been hearing, they're pretty cool," Scott said. "I like the coach that's recruiting me (Martin). They came to a couple of our practices, and they're cool people, so that's a good thing. I'll look at other schools like Duke, North Carolina, Arizona and stuff like that, but they're definitely at the top of my list."
Though it's unlikely to significantly alter his recruitment, Liggins suffered a stress fracture in his foot last weekend and will miss roughly six weeks.
Liggins, a 6-5 guard ranked 18th in the nation by Rivals.com, suffered the injury at the Bob Gibbons tournament in North Carolina.
Barring unforeseen events, Liggins will visit Memphis later this year and then decide between Memphis, Kansas and Illinois.
Under the radar
One name to keep an eye on during the summer recruiting season is Sampson Carter, who will be a senior at Hamilton this fall. Carter is the brother of former Tiger guard Shyrone Chatman, now the team's video coordinator.
Like Chatman, Carter grew up in Baton Rouge, La. But when Chatman got the job on Calipari's staff last summer, he convinced his brother to move to Memphis and live with him.
Since then, Carter has gone through a 4-inch growth spurt and now stands at roughly 6-7. Since Carter will still be 16 when school starts in the fall, prep school is an option. But even now, Carter is starting to get interest from mid-majors like New Mexico.
"We'll see how this summer goes," Chatman said. "He's got a chance."