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December 16, 2012

Talent at HG Tip-Off

WEST ORANGE, NJ - Despite a large field of talented signed seniors in Tyler Ennis (Syracuse), Tyler Roberson (Syracuse), Reggie Cameron (Georgetown), Mike Young (Pittsburgh), Hallice Cooke (Oregon State), Josh Brown (Temple), and Kentucky bound junior Karl Towns, the class of 2015 and 2016 showed off at the Hoop Group Tip-Off Showcase on Sunday. Attracting college coaches from Kentucky, Pittsburgh, West Virginia, Cincinnati, St. John's, Xavier, Northwestern and others, the talent was indeed elite and worth the trip.

Moustapha & Mustapha Turn Heads

While they may have not had the best performances of the event, both Moustapha Diagne and Mustafa Heron showed the most promise on the court.

Diagne, an import from Senegal, is a class of 2015 6-foot-9 power forward who is a defensive gem that runs the floor extremely well. A big, physical sophomore at Pope John XXIII (NJ), Diagne is a tremendous rebounder. His offensive game lacks, especially when it comes to scoring, but he has a high IQ as he knows when to find his teammates.

Cleveland State is his loan offer now, according to Pope John XXII coach Jason Hasson, but that should change very soon. Hasson told Rivals.com that the likes of West Virginia, Cincinnati, Syracuse, Florida, Rutgers, Villanova, Seton Hall, Kentucky and others have shown interest in the Senegal native. After grabbing 24 rebounds in his first game, and 16 on Sunday, it is clear how high his upside is.

On the other side, 2016 prospect Mustapha Heron has a college ready body for Wilbraham & Monson (MA), but is only 14-years old. Used as a point guard, he is versatile and mature for his age. Heron is projected to grow to 6-foot-9, which could make things very interesting. Most scouts in New England consider him to be the best freshman in that region for the time being with his upside off the charts.

As he is great at attacking the basket and leading his team by being a playmaker - something he believes he has improved on recently - Heron has college coaches drooling. While his dream school may be Florida because of their system, he holds offers from Kansas State and Miami, with interest from UConn, Cincinnati and Syracuse. As the Huskies have already had him on campus, look for this prospect's recruitment to blow up very soon.

Underclassmen Uprising

Along with Heron and Diagne, the Tip-Off event was highlighted by the mature play of sophomores Matt Zignorksi and Malachi Richardson, as well as freshmen Bryce Aiken and Asante Gist.

A leader on the court, 2016 5-foot-7 point guard Bryce Aiken of Pope John XXIII (NJ) and his 2015 backcourt mate, 6-foot-2 combo guard Matt Zignorksi, showed off their true value. Aiken controlled the game with surprising leadership, as well as no fear to take on older defenders and gets to the basket.

Aiken did a good job of maneuvering his body around defenders, and using his speed, to get easy layups. As he controlled the game, there is no question why the likes of Detroit, St. Francis (NY), Manhattan, Delaware and Rider have already offered him scholarships.

Zignorski, who came in unknown, showed off his handle and shooting skills. He handled pressure well and showed a lot of skills. As Davidson and most of the Ivy League have reached out about him, the sophomore should be one to keep an eye on this year by most mid-major colleges.

The duo of 2015 shooting guard Malachi Richardson and 2016 point guard Asante Gist was effective, as well.

While Gist is still far off from making a real impact in the high school game, his maturity on the court is tremendous. His skills will get him far, and that has already led to an offer from Seton Hall, with interest from Indiana, UConn, Syracuse, Rutgers and Florida.

Richardson, who blew up at this event last year, has become one of the biggest names in his class since then. After recently receiving an offer from Indiana, the Hoosiers and Syracuse lead for his services. While Syracuse is staying in touch, they and North Carolina need to watch him more before making a further evaluation. As Rutgers, Kansas and Indiana are in constant contact with him, he has hopes of going to the campuses of Maryland, Georgetown and Villanova within the near future.

Wilbraham's Wanted

Loaded with talented players, Wilbraham & Monson (MA) has a bomb-squad group of players being recruited by schools around the nation.

Stanford and Harvard standout the most to 2015 6-foot-10 center D.J. Baptiste, who was one of the lone bright spots for WMA at Hoop Group. A long and well built big, who runs the floor, Baptiste is a defensive presence. He finishes around the rim and already has a college-ready body. Along with Crimson and Cardinal - who stand out because of academics and developing big men - schools such as UConn, Providence, Cincinnati, UCLA, West Virginia, Miami and others like him a lot.

A much improved 2014 6-foot-8 power forward in Kerem Kanter scored down low and showed off his passing skills. Miami, Quinnipiac, Drexel, Towson, UMass and West Virginia made the list for Kanter, who isn't focused on his recruitment at the moment.

Maryland and Seton Hall have shown a liking to 2015 6-foot-4 guard Curtis Cobb, while bulky prospects Marcel Pettway, a 2015 forward, and Kamali Bey, a 2013 wing, are both flying under the radar for several reasons at the moment. Both have a big body, which helps and hurts them.

Kentucky was in to see 2015 Dominican import Luis Montero, as well as 2014 6-foot-9 power forward Goodluck Okonoboh.

Okonoboh has only spent one recent trip to Syracuse, a school he is very interested in. Missouri, Pittsburgh, Providence, UConn, Maryland and others are also involved with the shot blocking big man, who reclassified after coming over from Tilton (NH) in the summer.

As Montero was injured and didn't play to the best of his ability, Kentucky has been the one school constantly and consistently on him. Physically he doesn't have the proper strength needed, but his point guard skills are very impressive at 6-foot-7. He shoots the ball fairly well, too.

Hoop Group Tip-Off Scoop

2014 St. Peter's Prep (NJ) power forward Chris Wright is attracting interest from a number of mid-major schools, but Dartmouth is the only one on board to offer. Yale, Penn, Harvard, St. Joseph's, Fordham and Iona are interested, but Wright told Rivals.com he wants to play in the Ivy League.

2015 Hudson Catholic (NJ) guard Nassir Barrino remains without an offer, which is a bit surprising. As some mid-majors schools should begin to seriously covet the undersized, yet talented, sophomore, Barrino claims early interest from Michigan, Kansas, Villanova, St. Joseph's, Rutgers and Seton Hall. Realistically, he will be better suited following his teammate, Robert Morris bound Kavon Stewart, who is a similar size and ended up going to the mid-major level.

The recruitment of 2015 St. Benedict's (NJ) point guard Isaiah Briscoe may remain the same, but don't look for him to make any important decisions within the near future. Syracuse, Arizona, UConn and Rutgers, among others, have made a strong impression on the talented sophomore sensation.

2013 Teaneck (NJ) point guard Shaakir Lindsey isn't getting much attention from colleges, but may receive it from now on as he proved himself on Sunday. The 5-foot-7 point guard has the quickness, ability to score and mentality to be a low-major division one player at the next level.

They aren't being recruited yet, but St. Anthony (NJ) has a pair of freshmen studs who caught the attention of some on Sunday. 2016 6-foot-2 guard Jagen Mosley - the younger brother of Cheddi Mosley - and 2016 6-foot-8 power forward Taurean Thompson, by way of Harlem, are going to have a bright future under Friars coach Bob Hurley.

2014 St. Joseph's Metuchen (NJ) guard Wade Baldwin has a lot of schools really interested, but waiting to offer. On Sunday, he gave them 28 reasons why with a 28-point performance after a 24-point game two nights before. Northwestern continues to be the school showing the move attention towards Baldwin, as the Wildcats were there, once again, to watch him in action.

For the latest in college basketball recruiting, head to TheRecruitScoop.com for the latest details and notes on offers, visits, commitments and more. To contact Alex Kline, you can reach him by email at MaryKlineClassic@gmail.com or on Twitter at TheRecruitScoop.


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