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September 15, 2012

Saturday becomes pledge-day for top recruits


MORE: Pookie pledges to Memphis | Big weekend for visits

It used to be that Friday and Saturday during visit weekends was a quiet time.

In the past, visit-weekend commitments tend to started rolling in on Sundays.

For at least one Saturday in September, that changed as a slew of commitments produced decisions from four of the nation's top 100 players.

Things got started around lunchtime when Rashawn Powell ended his recruitment. A six-foot tall point guard at Orlando (Fla.) Dr. Phillips, Powell's decision was expected.

Headed into Saturday, it looked as if Memphis might have the inside track, but it was no certainty that they would beat Illinois or Alabama.

During an announcement at a family gathering for lunch, the No. 98 player in the class of 2013 made it final for the Tigers and Josh Pastner.

What he did by committing is address an important need for the Tigers' 2013 class. Quick with the ball, athletic and wired to score, "Pookie" gives Memphis that high octane conductor that it needs to run the system.

A bit up the coast, N.C. State was hosting Anthony Barber. Before the weekend started, we wrote that the Pack had quietly been making a move with the five-star point guard. That proved prescient on Saturday.

Halfway into his official visit, Barber decided that he had seen enough. With a nudge in the direction of N.C. State by his mother, the groundwork laid by assistant Rob Moxley during June and July came to fruition as Mark Gottfried was able to seal the deal with Barber.

The Wolfpack has been building an athletic, quick and aggressive team in Raleigh, and Barber -- ranked No. 9 nationally -- is the perfect fit.

Over at Arkansas, Mike Anderson and the Razorbacks were hosting the No. 59 player in the country, Moses Kingsley. On a dark and rainy day in Fayetteville, the 6-foot-9 center helped take away part of the sting of a football blowout loss to Alabama.

When Anderson's teams have been at their best, they've been able to supplement wings that fly all over the floor with a few anchors in the post.

The Razorbacks already had likely McDonald's All-American Bobby Portis from Little Rock on the line, but they needed a shot-blocker and rebounder to play him with so that they could have a little more versatility and depth.

The biggest thing is that the addition of Kingsley allows Portis -- who has high-major center size - to play as a scoring four man with size who can run the floor.

Also, Kingsley provides a rim protector who allows his teammates to gamble a little more on the perimeter.

The flurry ended in Champaign, Ill., as John Groce and his staff finished a sprint down the backstretch to land Kendrick Nunn.

A one-time commitment to Texas A&M, Nunn seemed but a dream for home state Illinois. The 6-foot-3 shooting guard from Chicago (Ill.) Simeon didn't seem to be feeling the new staff and was drifting away. But, the Illini never gave up on the No. 42 player.

Groce and his staff want to play fast, they want to use the pick-and-roll and they want to pressure. Nunn fits into that style nicely and it was just a matter on selling him on it being a good fit.

In the end, a great group effort from the staff was able to get things done and land the four-star wing.

After an unexpected day of action, we can only imagine what Sunday and the next few weeks may have in store for the rest of the country.



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