USC still attracts recruits

first_imgStanford football coach Jim Harbaugh announced Jan. 7 he was leaving to become the next coach of the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers, signing a lucrative five-year, $25-million contract.Recruiting power · NCAA-imposed sanctions have not stopped Lane Kiffin from finding top talent. USC’s commits currently rank 5th in the nation, according to Rivals.com. – Daily Trojan File Photo “It’s the perfect, competitive opportunity,” said the former NFL signal caller at his introductory press conference regarding the decision to bolt for the professional ranks.In the aftermath of Harbaugh’s departure, the Cardinal swiftly promoted offensive coordinator David Shaw to head coach, hoping to continue the success the program had achieved under Harbaugh’s watch, culminating in a 12-1 finish and an Orange Bowl victory earlier this month.If recent results on the recruiting trail serve as any indication, however, it won’t be a seamless transition after all, and USC stands to benefit as a result.On Monday, USC coach Lane Kiffin and the Trojans received an oral commitment from Anthony Sarao of Absecon, N.J., a four-star linebacker according to Yahoo! Sports’ Rivals.com, who had previously been committed to Stanford.The announcement came just one day after four-star running back Amir Carlisle from Sunnyvale, Calif. announced that he was also switching his commitment from Stanford to USC.“Amir is going to USC,” said his father Duane in a text message to Scout.com recruiting analyst Brandon Huffman.Saroa and Carlisle were among a group of 19 prospects visiting USC on official and unofficial recruiting visits this past weekend. The number of recruits on campus was one of the largest totals in the program’s recent history.When making his decision, Saroa told USCFootball.com, “It was a perfect visit. I had a great time out there.”The campus wasn’t the only selling point, however, as the New Jersey native admitted to being rather fond of the coaching staff’s pedigree.“USC has one of the best coaching staffs in college football,” Sarao also told the Rivals.com USC-centric website. “They definitely know what they’re talking about.”The Trojans’ staff includes highly regarded defensive coordinator Ed Orgeron, in addition to assistant head coach Monte Kiffin, who has been credited with creating the famed Tampa-2 defense. If Sarao had remained a Stanford commit, he would not only be playing for a new coach, but also a new defensive coordinator, after Vic Fangio announced he was leaving for the 49ers along with Harbaugh.Many recruiting analysts say Sarao, who is ranked seventh overall at his position by Rivals.com, has great strength, as ball carriers have had a difficult time escaping after first contact. The 6-foot-1, 220-pound linebacker can also go toe-to-toe with fullbacks when he blitzes or tries to shoot through the gaps.And with starters Malcolm Smith and Michael Morgan graduating, Saroa, who is expected to provide help at the linebacker position, addresses an area of severe need for the Trojans.In terms of depth and position need, Carlisle also represents a needed pickup, becoming USC’s only running back for the 2011 class. Ranked by Rivals.com as the 10th best player at his position, Carlisle measures 5-foot-10 and weighs 181-pounds.Huffman has compared him to former California standout and 2010 NFL Draft pick Jahvid Best, who was known for his speed and breakaway ability.Carlisle runs a 4.43 40-yard dash and can catch passes well coming out of the backfield, which will make him a two-dimensional threat for the Trojans.“Both are great pickups,” Huffman said Monday via Twitter. “Carlisle will end up being the top running back in the West and is extremely versatile.”“Sarao is a big hitter and really physical. Not real tall, but thick with great agility and range.”The Trojans currently have 25 commitments for their 2011 class, ranked as fifth-best nationally according to Rivals.com.Under NCAA sanctions, USC would normally be permitted to offer just 15 scholarships per recruiting class. Because the school is appealing the penalties, however, the limitation will not be enforced until 2012, allowing the program to offer a maximum of 20 scholarships, including the nine early enrollees that count toward the 2010 totals.It is still possible that USC could self-impose further and offer just 15 scholarships.last_img read more

Karolis Kundrotas builds off Lithuanian upbringing as Elon freshman

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Elon administration charged head basketball coach Matt Matheny to go find overseas players. He had already established relationships in different countries when he was an assistant at Davidson. But now in charge, he was tasked with finding international athletes for his own program.He found Karolis Kundrotas at a prep school in London that has served as a basketball hotbed of talent. But London is not where Kundrotas found his love for basketball. It’s from a basketball-obsessed city in Lithuania that has developed numerous NBA talents.“Karolis fits perfectly into what we look for in recruiting at Elon,” Matheny said, “He’s someone that is coachable, that is tough and that is willing to work.”The 6-foot, 11-inch freshman Kundrotas, who was born and raised in Kaunus will come to the Carrier Dome on Saturday at 7 p.m. to face Syracuse (2-0) as a part of the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament. Though he’s scored just five points in 15 minutes this season for Elon (2-1), Kundrotas’ past stops shaped the promising player.Kundrotas moved to England with his mother in 2006 and played at the Barking Abbey Basketball Academy. The academy’s professionalism helped prepare him to play Division I.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textAfter failing to bring in European recruits in past years, Mattheny successfully reeled in Kundrotas.“The coaches there are really sharp,” Kundrotas said of the Academy. “The closest program that I’ve been to that matched American standards.”The Barking Abbey program, which head coach Lloyd Gardner called the British version of an American“prep school,” is linked to a normal British state high school and is regarded as one of the top basketball programs in the UK for developing young players.The Abbey program previously sent fellow Lithuanian Paulius Satkus one year earlier to James Madison and Kundrotas followed a similar path.Program director Matt Clark said that every Lithuanian player comes with solid fundamentals and a 3-point shot, which Clark called a “signature” of all European big men.“Lithuanians grow up with basketball,” Clark said. “It’s their national sport. A large number of their heroes are basketball players.”Kundrotas’ hometown in Lithuania, Kaunus, is a goldmine for basketball stars, producing several NBA players including Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Donatas Motiejūnas Arvydas Sabonis, Šarūnas Marčiulionis and Linas Kleiza.“Being from the same place,” the freshman said, “they’re people that I look up to. I idolize them.”While many young athletes in Lithuania look up to players like Ilgauskus and Montiejunas, Kundrotas said that his hero was another Lithuanian basketball star.Šarūnas “Šaras” Jasikevičius was another product of Kaunus, Lithuania and played point guard in the United States for Maryland. Jasikevičius played a majority of his career overseas, but had a brief stint with the Indiana Pacers in the NBA.“He was the man in my eyes,” Kundrotas said, “with Zydrunas of course, he’s also legend.”Kundrotas hasn’t come close to the level that his heroes have reached yet, but Matheny thinks highly of his future.Matheny believes that despite Kundrotas coming more game-ready than the coaching staff anticipated, he still has a lot to work on and to learn before he can play big minutes for the Phoenix.Both are excited for the opportunity to play at Syracuse. It’s a chance for Kundrotas to play in the type of venue his countrymen became accustomed to.“I can’t believe the opportunity I’ve got from where I come from,” Kundrotas said, “I can’t wait.” Comments Published on November 20, 2015 at 12:02 pm Contact Jack: jfupton@syr.edulast_img read more