Sunday, May 23, 2004

C-J's Brown being courted by Musketeers for '05 class

College basketball insider

By Dustin Dow
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Xavier has a spot left in its 2005 recruiting class, and Chaminade-Julienne's Derrick Brown is a serious candidate to fill it.

Brown, a 6-foot-7 small forward whose recruitment has picked up in recent weeks, made his third unofficial visit to XU Tuesday. He met with academic advisor Sr. Rose Ann Fleming, toured the campus and had dinner with current Xavier players.

Brown wants to make a college decision before his high school season begins, preferably by August, and said Xavier is the leader right now.

"They're definitely high, high, high on the list," Brown said. "I like them a lot. The No. 1 thing is (XU coaches) are genuine. They tell the truth. That's a big part of my process. I just want to feel comfortable, and I feel comfortable there."

More teams have started to take notice of Brown, who plays near the basket out of necessity for Chaminade-Julienne but is playing the two and three this summer for Mike Price's Cincinnati AAU team. Michigan State came down for an open gym and offered Brown a scholarship on the spot.

Among others who have offered are North Carolina State and Dayton, which he visited two weeks ago. Wake Forest and Miami (Fla.) complete the list of schools he is considering, though C-J coach Joe Staley said new schools call every day.

"He's just going through the roof recruiting-wise," Staley said. "I hear from the highest-level schools every day. The thing about him is he gets better every time he comes in the gym."

College coaches will get more chances to see what Brown can do from the outside this summer on the AAU circuit.

"So much of recruiting now is about seeing potential," Price said. "With Derrick, you can see his potential in the layup line. We're going to have him facing the basket a lot and working on those skills in practice."

Nearly all of the recruiters who have called or watched Brown want him to play the three position in college, including Xavier.

"I like them a lot, honestly," Brown said of Xavier. "But I'm hesitating (to commit), because you never know what's still out there. I want to take time to compare them to other schools."

HUGHES MVP: The last 12 months have been great to Rick Hughes. The Walnut Hills High and Thomas More College product got married last June, had perhaps his finest pro season, and on April 1 welcomed his first child.

This week he was named MVP of the top pro league in France. Playing for Strasbourg, the 6-9 forward led the league in scoring, averaging 24.1 points and 8.7 rebounds while shooting 62.7 percent. The team, 3-7 a week before he arrived, finished 20-14 and begins playoff action this week.

His wife, Keywaina, attended his game March 31 against Dijon when she began feeling labor pains. After the game, they rushed home to get their belongings and then to the hospital, where the next morning Rick Hughes Jr. was born - 3 1/2 weeks early. Hughes said by phone Thursday that NBA teams have been calling his agent with renewed interest, and that the odds are growing that he could be back in the NBA next season. He played 21 games with the Dallas Mavericks in the 1999-2000 season.

UP-AND-COMING LARKIN: Barry Larkin's 11-year-old son, Shane, apparently takes after his uncle, Xavier's all-time leading scorer, Byron Larkin.

Clark Francis of Hoop Scoop ranks Shane Larkin the 20th-best fifth-grader in the nation. That's right - fifth grade. Or as Francis writes, the class of 2011.

"I'd like to see the players that are ranked ahead of him, because they must be very good," Barry said. "He's got a little bit of everything. He's got handle. He plays great defense. He's a rebounder, a slasher and a jump shooter, everything. He's very talented. He understands the game and does what he has to do to win."


Neil Schmidt and Bill Koch contributed.

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