Wall's gone, but two big basketball recruits remain

Staff WriterMay 22, 2009 

John Wall gave it a good run, but the Raleigh prep basketball star will not be the No. 1 recruiting procrastinator of the year.

That distinction will go to either wing guard Lance Stephenson of Brooklyn, N.Y., or forward Latavious Williams of Humble, Tex., both of whom are still looking around. Wall, a top-rated point guard, signed with Kentucky on Wednesday and will join a banner class for new Wildcats coach John Calipari.

But Memphis, which Calipari left after lifting the program to major national status, may yet survive the recruiting blow. Williams and Stephenson are showing interest in the Tigers. There's even speculation the two could announce for Memphis at the same time. New coach Josh Pastner, a 31-year-old former Calipari aide, continues to recruit the pair, just as he did Wall.

The situation is sticky with Stephenson, who has expressed interest in Arizona, Maryland and St. John's, in addition to Memphis. He and a Brooklyn Lincoln High teammate, Darwin Ellis, are facing sexual assault charges that could be resolved as early as this week but perhaps not until late June. They are charged with fondling a 17-year-old female student and could face six months of jail time if convicted.

New Arizona coach Sean Miller and one of his assistants, Emanuel Richardson, have targeted Stephenson. Richardson has strong New York ties.

Years ago - before the NCAA introduced the preseason basketball signing period - top recruits routinely went into April and May before making decisions. In isolated situations, announcements weren't made until mid-summer. But the more coaches jump jobs at season's end, the more likely a return to that trend becomes.

caulton.tudor@newsobserver.com or 919-829-8946

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