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USC and Penn State strike on the recruiting trail

As the final July evaluation period closed, several verbal commitments of note popped off prior to and during the period.

Perhaps the most important commitment was 5-10 point guard Kahlil Dukes to the USC Trojans. Dukes, a scorer from Capital Prep (CT), played particularly well in Las Vegas for his Connecticut Basketball Club team, and will be trading Hartford, CT, for sunny Southern California for college. Dukes is the Trojans’ first pledge for the 2013 class.

At one time the Trojans held pledges from two natives of Arizona in a similar mold in the 2012 class, Dewayne Russell and Larry Lewis, though neither actually matriculated at USC. Dukes apparently fills that void of a scoring lead guard for USC. It will be interesting to see how Dukes translates to Pac-12 basketball, as he clearly can get buckets, but only held other mid-major offers.

Other commitments of note:

  • The Penn State Nittany Lions continue to hustle on the recruiting trail in the wake of the decommitment from their previous top pledge, the versatile Brandon Austin. Penn State struck with power forward Julian Moore, a 6-9 prospect from Germantown Academy (PA). Adding Moore to go with guard Geno Thorpe shows the goal of the coaching staff to keep in-state talent at home, and build from within. Penn State also holds a verbal from Isaiah Washington in the 2014 class.
  • Another highly significant pledge is that of guard Brandon Randolph to Pepperdine. Randolph could end up being an outstanding player in the WCC, as a borderline top-150 player in the 2013 class nationally. Randolph, who announced his commitment via his Twitter feed, can compete with most of the “bigger names” nationally, and has starred at St. Bernard (CA). Along with Cullen Neal, who is committed to St. Mary’s, the WCC has two impressive guard commits early on in the process.
  • Hawaii snagged a late 2012 recruit in forward Aaron Valdes of LaJolla Prep (CA), per multiple outlets. He had been searching for the right offer, and appears to have received one in conjunction with his July performance.

About K.J. Hassenstab

K.J. Hassenstab is the publisher of the College Basketball Newcomers Guide book and Hoopniks.com. He founded Hoopniks.com in 2009, and has contributed to SlamOnline, Dime Magazine's HighSchoolHoop.com, and NBCSports.com, along with other publications in the past. Hassenstab has covered grassroots, high school and basketball recruiting for over a decade. Follow on Twitter, @Hoopniks.

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