Basketball Recruiting Notebook: A.J. Harris Leads Stacked AAU Squad

By Mike Young on May 14, 2014 at 3:00p

They share a nickname with one of the NBA's top talents, but his influence extends slightly beyond the naming rights.

For one, the Director of the King James Shooting Stars is Dru Joyce II, LeBron James' high school and AAU coach. Secondly, their connections to St. Vincent-St.Mary High School are a useful recruiting tool for the King James Shooting Stars.

Two SVSM players are currently on the roster, including 2016 top-ten recruit V.J. King. Despite his talent, he is not the leader of his AAU team. 

While he has, arguably, more highly-touted teammates, 2015 Ohio State commit A.J. Harris is the heart of his team. 

"Perfect example, we were playing, Sunday, against NorthWest XPress. This kid took the game over with great decisions and where the other guys fell down, A.J. picked them up," King James coach Danyelle Love told Eleven Warriors. "He took over, made great moves and got to the basket when we needed him to." It didn't matter that he had 6-9 or 6-10 kids in front of him." 

Harris is listed at five-feet, nine-inches tall but has an array of skills to make up for his lack of height. A few of those were refined playing soccer, as Harris has been a part of Dunbar High School's fledgling boys' soccer program.

"That attributes to a lot of his footwork in basketball," Love said. "He's also in great shape, and I also attribute a lot of that to soccer. He plays hard for as many minutes as you need him to."

Through two weekends of EYBL basketball, Harris is averaging 14.4 points on 45.6 percent shooting, five assists and 1.8 steals per game. His outstanding performance in Dallas, this past weekend, earned praise from the official Nike EYBL website

Love, one of the few female coaches in Ohio high school basketball, also spoke about several of Harris' teammates. High-major schools are interested in nearly every player on the team:

Kyle Ahrens

"It's been a mental thing [returning from a broken leg], it's just human nature – if you get injured – you want to make sure it's ok. The one thing you're going to get from Kyle, no matter what, he's going to be the hardest-playing kid on the team." 

Willie Jackson

"I think he's going to be an exceptional talent. He just played with us this past weekend and his potential is out of this world." 

V.J. King

"V.J. still has a lot of room to improve, but his future looks wonderful. He needs to play better defense and his decisions on passing the ball have to be a little bit better, but V.J. does some amazing things. When A.J.'s out, that's who runs the point."

"He's like a little sponge, a very disciplined kid." "He's going to be special."

Kipper Nichols

"Kipper, to me, since I've worked with him since the seventh grade, has always had this type of talent.  A lot of Kipper's issues, though, are he's just learning to be consistent. He's young and still learning, but I would like that if I were a college coach." 

Derek Pardon

"When I started out with Derek Pardon, nobody wanted him, he was just a tall, clumsy kid. Of course, he's not that now. The good part about Derek is he just started learning. Those are the kind of kids, if I'm a college coach, I would drool over. He's playing high major basketball."

Elijah Thomas Update

Earlier this month, Elijah Thomas tweeted he would announce his college decision January 15, 2015, in honor of his late-Grandmother's birthday.

Those plans may have changed, according to his interview with Memphis Roar.

"Talking with my family, there are opportunities on when you want to commit and how it is going to be done," Thomas said. "Basically, there are things that come with committing that may not be available in January, which is why I may move it earlier."

The Rockwall, Texas native hails from the same hometown as recent Buckeye commit Austin Grandstaff, and Thomas has also spoken to incoming OSU freshman D'Angelo Russell about coming to Columbus

Thomas, a composite five-star big in the 2015 class, has offers from Connecticut, Illinois, Memphis, Oklahoma State, SMU and Texas, in addition to Ohio State.

Dickerson Picks Hoyas

One option in the 2015 class is now off the board.

After the Buckeyes offered in December, four-star power forward Noah Dickerson is headed elsewhere: 

Dickerson recently transferred to Montverde Academy – same high school as D'Angelo Russell – and took an unofficial visit to Columbus during last year's football season. In the end, Dickerson chose Georgetown because of John Thompson III's ability to develop big men and his relationship with the Hoyas' coach. 

Around the B1G

Another Buckeye target in the class of 2015 will not be suiting up for the Scarlet and Gray. He committed to another Big Ten school, however:

Andrew Fleming verbally committed to the Hawkeyes shortly after taking an unofficial visit to Iowa City and receiving an offer from head coach Fran McCaffery. Fleming told The Gazette he did an extensive amount of research before deciding Iowa is the best. 

Ohio State coaches Thad Matta and Jeff Boals visited Fleming at his high school in late April. He was not expected to pick OSU and their backcourt depth should survive without him. 

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