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April 14, 2013

Northeast Hoops Festival Recap

Hartford, CT - With teams geared to go, and ready to begin the two week stretch of the AAU April Live Period, some of the top teams prepared for that at a very competitive Northeast Hoops Festival on Sunday. Here were some of the top performers and headlines.

Nigerian Newcomer

Playing on the U16 circuit with CBC happened to be two stud big men. As most know about 2015 Pope John XXIII (NJ) power forward Moustapha Diagne by now, they likely have little to no clue who Sam Ibiezegbe is.

As both made their AAU debut, Diagne already gained plenty of exposure on the high school level, and the Senegalese product has reeled in offers from Oregon State, UConn, La Salle, West Virginia, Cincinnati and many more. Ibiezegbe, on the other hand, is a class of 2016 6-foot-11 center from The Masters School (CT), who is finishing up his first complete year of basketball since coming over from Nigeria.

"Currently no schools know of him," his coach Ralph Auriantal told Rivals.com. "This is his first year of basketball and his first time playing AAU."

Auriantal thinks he will be fairly well known soon after, however. With a big body, the freshman runs the floor extremely well for his size, and is getting stronger. Extremely young and raw, he has all the tools to be a high-major talent as he is playing similar to the level of Diagne when he first started playing in the states. His spacing on the court, positioning in the post and developing an IQ for the game will be attributes that Ibiezegbe is bound to learn about over the next few years. Once he develops offensively, he could be scary.

It's still early, but look for tons of interest to build up for him on the U16 level this spring.

Sharma & Falzon Show Immense Improvement

Of all the talented 2014, 2015 and 2016 recruits in the building on Sunday, two showed off how good they could potentially be. Both Aaron Falzon and Josh Sharma brought their A-game to the stage.

Falzon, a 2015 combo forward from St. Mark's (MA), is running with Expressions, and appears to have come out of his shell a bit. The brother of Sacred Heart player Tevin Falzon, Aaron is running the floor, getting stronger and is much more athletic as he continues to improve. Originally a true power forward, his improved handle craftiness have led to more relaxed play on the court. Now, he needs to work on getting quicker and being able to take a defender off the dribble in order to become a true 3/4.

As Providence and Boston College recently offer him a scholarship, he also holds offers from Sacred Heart and Boston. Ohio State and Duke, among others, have demonstrated some interest. He hopes to visit both Providence and Boston College in the near future, if he does make any trips.

Sharma, a 2015 power forward from Northfield Mount Hermon (MA), has steadily improved around the rim as he is now finishing with a force. Still working on getting stronger, the high-academic big man's post moves, athleticism, footwork and many other small aspects of his game are starting to come around as the Mass Rivals product attempts to make believers out of college coaches.

Still holding his trio of offers from Kansas State, UMass and Providence, with interest from Duke, Syracuse and Maryland. Look for this list to expand rapidly as the month of April ends.

Almighty Abu

The options for Abdul-Malik Abu range from Big-12 to the Big Ten to the SEC and so on, and so forth. Simply put, his list has exceeded twenty schools and counting. However, that list could be chopped fairly soon.

"After the second live period, I may cut my list down," he told Rivals.com. "It continues to grow so my goal is to manage it somehow."

With a boatload of offers, Abu is staying in contact the most with Florida, Iowa State, Kansas State, UConn, Providence, Maryland, St. John's, Duke and Wisconsin. Unconcerned about choosing a program simply for its name, Abu is transforming into a very productive and versatile combo forward. With the ability to play in the post, and one he improves his handle, on the perimeter, the No. 50 player in the Rivals150 could skyrocket to the top tier of the rankings.

While the four-star prospect and teammate, Jared Terrell, are good friends, there is no definitive answer yet as to whether or not they will attempt a package deal. With various options for the rising seniors, UConn appears to be an interesting one, that has now turned complex because of the signing of NC State transfer Rodney Purvis.

If Abu and Terrell do attempt to explore the package option, it will be interesting to see what UConn's pitch is, among many others schools on the recruiting trail.

Larrier Looking to Land Major Offers

Most players on Team Scan have already established themselves heading into year one of the Nike EYBL. With numerous Rivals150 players, Terry Larrier is the odd one out, but that may not be for long.

The 2014 6-foot-8 small forward from Phelps School (PA) is in high demand by dozens of mid-major schools throughout the east coast, but interest is piling up from even bigger schools. His jumper is becoming much better, along with his defense and communication. Once Larrier gets stronger and tightens up his handle on the perimeter, things could get very scary, very soon.

Wake Forest, Iowa State, UConn and Texas have yet to offer, but are coming on strong. VCU, Oklahoma and Providence are recruiting him the hardest. He wants to visit the VCU campus, along with Miami and Georgetown. As playing time, family atmosphere and coaching style mean a lot to him, but he is still pleased with his 15 or so mid-major offers.

With a chance to make a name for himself in the next two weeks, and then elevate that name the rest of the summer, there is a high likeliness that Larrier takes full advantage of the situation.

Northeast Notes

Boston Celtics president of operations Danny Ainge has already sent two of his boys to BYU. His third son, , may be the best of all three, and may head a different route. The 2015 5-foot-11 point guard by way of Kimball Union (NH), Ainge is running with ECE-Mass. His size hurts him, but he makes up for it with his high IQ and passing ability. Typically a strong shooter, he didn't have his best day on the court. Nevertheless, Ainge is going to be a mid-major recruit, and hasn't set his focus on following in his family's footsteps to BYU just yet. The sophomore will be an interesting one to keep tabs on going forward.

Ranked No. 44 in the Rivals150, Kaleb Joseph is pacing himself for a strong summer ahead with schools such as Duke and Ohio State evaluating him hard in order to figure out whether or not to offer. Syracuse, on the other hand, has already offered and is beginning to pick up the pressure in his recruitment through constant contact. Despite a busy spring of books and basketball, don't be surprised if he makes his way on to the Orange's campus with his Mass Rivals teammate, Goodluck Okonoboh.

Jared Wilson-Frame remains without an offer, but his personal goal is to get his grades up. In order to do that, the 2015 wing will leave Windsor (CT) with hopes of landing at Kimball Union (NH), Vermont Academy or St. Thomas More (CT) next year. The athletic specimen is making better decisions on the court and is starting to become a more well-rounded player. This will be an important spring for him on the AAU trail with Expressions.

Fitting one's role is always tough when that doesn't include being the main guy or leading scorer, but 2014 St. Thomas More (CT) point guard Cane Broome is doing an excellent job of that. Through defensive pressure, finding teammates and an improving mid-range jumper, Broome is being the best teammate he can; something most don't show off on the AAU circuit. The Expressions product holds scholarships from Quinnipiac, Fordham and Fairfield, with interest coming in from Wagner, Loyola Marymount, Utah State, Sacred Heart, Central Connecticut State and others.

Athletic specimen sums up the game of Team Scan's Unique McLean. The question regarding the 2016 guard from Hoosac (NY) is whether or not he will be continue to round out his game and become a true point guard. With his current size, he must do that in order to have a chance at playing at a high level. Detroit, St. Francis (NY) and the old Siena staff offered him at an early age, but McLean likes hearing from the big boys as VCU, Florida, Baylor, Dayton, UConn and others are generating some early interest.

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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