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Hoops Recruiting Notebook

With the spring signing period underway and the AAU season starting to take off, we’re going to give you an update on some hoops prospects to keep an eye on over the next few weeks.

Banks has an offer from the Nittany Lions.

The name everyone has been asking about is 2012 Beaver Falls (Pa.) forward Sheldon Jeter, and unfortunately there isn’t much new to report on that front. There have been some internet message board rumors back that we cannot confirm nor deny, but it looks as though the 6-foot-7 forward will take another official visit – destination unknown – before the period ends.

Penn State still sits in a good position here, with South Carolina looking like the other player. Wisconsin is making a late push as Bo Ryan is said to be making the trip into Pittsburgh to visit with the first team all state honoree. I was told earlier this week Penn State isn’t expecting his decision for at least another week or two. We will be monitoring it closely.

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West Coast Swing

While most of the recruiting under Pat Chambers has revolved around the local area, there are a few west coast prospects who have been offered by Penn State, two of which we profiled earlier this season.

Coming out of Arizona, Basha High School had two prospects who received offers a few months ago, most notably guard Jaron Hopkins. Hopkins is a 6-foot-4 point who can get his as well – he averaged 20 points a game in addition to seven boards and six dimes – and has continued that success during AAU, playing for Compton Magic Black.

“We haven’t lost in two tournaments yet, so we are looking to keep that up this weekend,” said Hopkins. “I've been playing really good, shooting, dunking, dribbling, doing a little bit of everything pretty much.”

Harvard, Stanford, and Colorado State have been in the 185-pounder’s ear most consistently, but Penn State isn’t out of the picture yet. An east coast trip is in the works to make a few visits, including a stop in State College.

“We’re definitely going to hit Penn State, I'm looking forward to see the campus and see everything in person.”

The other Basha product to monitor is center Maurice Kirby. The 6-foot-9, 220-pound big man has been working out during the off-season to bulk up a bit, and until last week was playing AAU ball with Hopkins. Though the Nittany Lions offered, Kirby hasn’t heard much from the Penn State staff lately – Drake, California Irvine, and Tennessee were the most recent contacts.

Another west coast guard received an offer from Penn State in California shooting guard Payton Banks. The 6-foot-5 Orange (Ca.) native took home California CIF Division 1A First Team honors and helped his Orange Lutheran squad win its second in back-to-back titles.

Playing alongside Arizona signee Gabe York, Banks learned how to play off the ball with an elite caliber player after being ‘the guy’ the year before. Playing with the nationally ranked Compton Magic AAU squad this summer, Banks has offers from Southern Cal, Colorado, Washington State, and Arizona State, among others.

Banks is what you would consider a ‘west coast guy,’ so don’t expect to see him leave the Pac-12 conference, despite the Penn State offer.

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Transfers

As has been the case in college basketball the past few years, transferring schools is the new trend, seeing more than 300 players looking to get out of their current situation and into a new one. Whether it is through a normal or graduate transfer, student-athletes want out. With scholarships available, don’t be surprised if Penn State dips their hand into the transfer waters, especially with three players transferring their way out of State College.

One player to keep an eye on is Baltimore (Md.) Texas A&M Corpus Christi junior guard Terence Jones. Jones averaged 13.7 points a game last year for the Islanders in the Southland Conference, earning Honorable Mention All Conference honors. Starting 29 of the teams 30 games last year, the former Notre Dame Prep player hit 68 threes and shooting 36% from beyond the arc.

Already on the verge of completing his third year in Texas, Jones is a candidate for a graduate transfer, and would be eligible to play immediately in the fall. With only nine players on scholarship at this point for the Nittany Lions next season, a graduate transfer would add immediate depth and experience.

Next up we have two freshman guards looking for a change of scenery. First is Brampton (Ont.) guard Dylan Ennis. Ennis attended Rice University this fall, averaging eight points a game for the Owls, starting 27 of 34 games in his first year. Shooting 43 percent from the floor, Ennis also averaged four rebounds and assists a game.

Linked to such schools as Villanova, Virginia, and Virginia Tech, among others, Penn State is interested in the 6-foot-2 guard. Ennis would have to sit out a year if he were to transfer, but have three years of eligibility remaining.

Finally, another freshman guard is on the transfer block, Plainfield (N.J.) guard Derrick Gordon, who helped Western Kentucky to the NCAA tournament this past season. Gordon led the Hilltoppers in points (11.8) and rebounds (6.7) per game, starting each contest in his first year. Gordon played high school ball with Mike Kidd-Gilchrist on one of the best teams in 2010-11 at St. Patrick, and has cited a desire to get closer to home as one reason for his transfer.

Penn State was reported to be a possible destination by his high school coach, but Gordon told us he has yet to release his own list of schools. As is the case with Ennis, Gordon will have to sit out a year with his transfer, but will still have three seasons of eligibility left after the required sit-out year.

Finally, Penn State is also expected to explore the JUCO ranks for a player to bring in this season.

Coming from junior college is guard Jerome Harris, a Chicago native who has two years of eligibility remaining. Harris’ path has been riddled with setbacks and changes, attending two separate junior colleges in addition to signing with UAB before getting his release after its coach left. Look for a more detailed update on Harris in the coming week.

There are two JUCO events coming up in the next month that will be live to college coaches, whether or not Penn State will be a player for any of these prospects remains to be seen. It should be noted Pat Chambers was present at the National Junior College Athletic Association national championships in late March.

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