PHILLY – Drove down here this morning and I’ve already eaten a Philly cheese steak at the Pour House with Dana O’Neill of ESPN.com and Brendan Quinn of Basketball Times. Quinn did the driving and did a spectacular job parallel parking in front of the restaurant, a la George Costanza in the hospital episode of “Seinfeld.”
Here are some quick notes.
**Chris Coleman, a 6-9 junior center from Durham (NC) Mt. Zion (pictured), has committed to Florida International and head coach Isiah Thomas, despite my previous post to the contrary.
“I liked that [Thomas] played in the NBA, coached in the NBA and he’s got a lot of experience and stuff,” Coleman told the NBE Basketball Report. “That is where I am trying to get, so that is why I committed.”
Coleman reportedly picked FIU over UConn, West Virginia, Syracuse, Virginia Tech, Texas, N.C. State and Wake Forest.
Coleman’s AAU coach, Don Marsh, previously told me had not committed.
**Paterson (N.J.) Catholic guard Jayon James is reclassifying to the Class of 2011 and is transferring to prep school, although it is unclear which one.
“He’s definitely transferring,” said John James, Jayon’s dad. “We’re trying to get his body right and trying to get him prepared for college.”
The 6-foot-5 James is being recruited by various Ivy League schools, including Harvard, Brown and Princeton.
“It’s still wide open, though,” John James said.
**Speaking of Paterson Catholic, 6-7 rising sophomore point guard Kyle Anderson is hearing from Pitt, Georgetown, Rutgers, St. John’s, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, La Salle, Texas, Kansas, Baylor, Miami and Kentucky. Georgetown is the only school Anderson has visited unofficially. Stay tuned for more on him later.
“His basketball IQ is so high that he can really play any position on the court,” Kyle Anderson Sr. said.
**Still more Paterson Catholic. Rising junior point Myles Mack, who’s on Anderson’s team here, says DePaul, Virginia Tech, St. John’s, Virginia and VCU have entered the picture, joining schools like Georgetown, Fordham, La Salle and Drexel.
How good can PC be next year? “We’re trying to win the TOCs this year,” Mack said.
**Also stay tuned for an SNY.tv story Friday on J.J. Moore, a 6-5, 190-pound wing from Brentwood, N.Y. Moore plans to transfer from Brentwood High (which produced Seton Hall big man John Garcia) to South Kent (Conn.), where he will play alongside New York products Mike Buffalo (Wings) and Russ Smith (Archbishop Molloy). Joel “Air Jamaica” Wright (Thomas Jefferson) may also end up at South Kent, although he said he’s also considering Hargrave (Va.) Military and Winchendon (Mass.).
It seemed like every Big East coach I spoke to was there scouting Moore, who dropped a game-high 18 in a win over Joe Jackson and Allen Iverson. Moore said he plans to visit Providence, Rutgers, Louisville and Marquette and also said Syracuse has always been a favorite.
**DePaul assistant Billy Garrett is quickly making inroads in the Northeast. Moore, Mack and Anderson all mentioned him.
“It was great,” he said. “I got to visit another country and got to play with another team. I think it’s the best team I ever played with.”
Gibbs, a rising junior whose older brother Ashton Gibbs is a rising sophomore at Pittsburgh, previously told me Villanova was his favorite school.
Still, he said he plans to visit Oklahoma, Pitt, Villanova, Indiana and DePaul this summer.
“I’m wide open with my recruitment,” he said. “I hope to take some visits in August and see where it goes from there.”
**Kelvin Jefferson, who coached Omari Lawrence (St. John’s) and Kevin Parrom (Arizona) at South Kent, had thoughts on both.
“With Omari, he’s a tough, rugged kind of player. His year at South Kent he’s developed his body physically. He’s bigger, he’s stronger and he’s going to be able to take the pounding of the Big East schedule. He’s a physical slasher, but now he’s going to be able to take the pounding and finish around the rim and it’s not going to effect him so much.
“With Kevin and the Pac-10, he’s long, he can run, he can jump, he’s athletic. The nice thing about him is his diversity. He can do a lot of different things. He can handle the ball like a point forward. He can get to the rim. He’ll rebound for you. He’ll make 3’s. He does a lot of good things that will enable guys to want him to play at a lot of different positions and give him a chance to stay on the court a long time.”
**Pe’Shon Howard, a 6-3, 195-pound wing from Oak Hill (Va.) Academy, listed Harvard, Arkansas, Rutgers, Virginia Tech, Stanford and USC.
“I’ve got a lot of offers from a lot of schools,” Howard said.
He said Rutgers assistant Craig Carter has been recruiting him for the Knights.
“He’s a cool guy,” Howard said.
He said he’s visited Arizona and Kentucky unofficially.
“[Arizona] was great, nice campus,” he said. ” I went to Kentucky a month ago. It was fun, lots of talented players. It was nice out there.”
“As of right now he loves [Arizona],” Bernard Bowen, Johnson’s mentor, told me recently. “He loves the coaching staff. As of right now, Arizona is the top on his list.”
Johnson averaged 11 points and 10 rebounds last season at St. Ray’s, which reached the title game of the SNY Invitational before falling to Sherrod Wright and Mount Vernon.
“I just create a mismatch wherever I’m at,” he said. “I play inside/outside, but I’ll probably be a three in college.
Johnson has modest goals for this year.
“Be Mr. Basketball in the State [of New York],” he said. “That’s my goal.”
**Head coaches on hand so far: La Salle’s Dr. John Giannini; UConn’s Jim Calhoun; St. John’s Norm Roberts; Providence’s Keno Davis; Kentucky’s John Calipari; Memphis’ Josh Pastner; Oklahoma State’s Travis Ford; Indiana’s Tom Crean; Villanova’s Jay Wright; Marquette’s Buzz Williams; Virginia Tech’s Seth Greenburg; St. Joe’s Phil Martelli; FDU’s Greg Vetrone; Alabama’s Anthony Grant; BC’s Al Skinner and Temple’s Fran Dunphy.
GARLAND TO VIRGINIA TECH
“The school that I will be attending is Virginia Tech,” Garland said.
“The [other] schools I was considering were La Salle, Temple, Nevada and Nebraska but what sold me was a great coaching staff. It’s kind of quiet up there so you can focus on basketball. [It has a] good campus and new practice facility, too.”
Bartram coach James Brown said Garland was a “special” person.
“I say from day one that young man is special,” Brown said. “Not only do you have a great basketball player but you have a great individual sitting right there.
“You don’t get the total package that often. He’s the total package person, personality, character. Teachers around the school say the same thing about him.
“He’s special, they love him.”
His decision behind him, Garland said he can now focus on school and basketball.
“Now I can just focus on ball and working out and focus on the rest of the AAU season and my grades,” he said.