July 16, 2011

Peach State notebook

Pollard not worried about recruiting
AIKEN, S.C. | For the majority of the top basketball recruits, July is a time to focus on the AAU season as it wraps up while August is spent taking visits and looking at schools, and a decision is typically made by the early signing period in November.

That's not the case for top prospect Devonta Pollard.

Pollard, a 6-foot-7 small forward from Porterville, Miss., plans on narrowing his list down during the upcoming school year and making a decision in the spring.

In the meantime, Pollard is hearing from a number of schools including Alabama, Connecticut, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi State and Texas. Even though he's not close to choosing a school yet, he knows what he's looking for in a school.

"Academics mainly, I want to go to a school where I'm going to be comfortable at," Pollard said. "(I want) a good coaching staff, coaches that want to help you get to where you want to be."

Pollard, who visited Tuscaloosa last year for a game, still thinks highly of Alabama and likes the direction the program is headed in.

"They're a good school," Pollard said. "Of course, they're still rebuilding, and putting everything together. But they're a good school now, and once they get everything the way they want, they will probably be even better."

UA head coach Anthony Grant was a frequent visitor at Pollard's AAU games this week at the Peach State Showcase. The Rivals.com five-star was battling a stress fracture and struggled at times, but said it felt good seeing the coaches at his games.

"It means I'm one of their high-recruited players," Pollard said. "It really shows me how bad they want me when they come see me. "

Last month, Pollard's AAU teammate Gavin Ware committed to Mississippi State. Before, Pollard had said that he wanted to play with his teammate at the next level, but now he's concentrating on finding the best for him.

"No sir, not really," Pollard said when asked if he was set on playing with Ware. "I still want to go where I'm going to be comfortable."

Taylor shines offensively
When Greensboro High School won the state championship earlier this year, Jimmy Taylor was one of the main reasons because of his efforts on defense. However, the 6-foot-9 big man didn't offer much on the offensive end.

After spending the summer working out at the U.S. Trials and Lebron James Skills Academy, Taylor has significantly improved his ability to put the ball in the basket.

"I learned a few offensive moves," Taylor said. "I've been trying to develop a counter move for my hook shot when they take it away, and I'm getting my confidence. I'm getting a whole lot of confidence in my shooting."

That confidence showed as Taylor proved to be one of the top scorers for the Alabama Challenge at the Peach Ste Showcase.

With his game continuing to improve, more schools are beginning to show interest in the 2013 prospect. Georgetown, Georgia and Ole Miss have all offered in the last month, and Kentucky has also been talking to him a lot recently.

Taylor mentioned style of play and distance from home as two of his main factors, making Alabama a prime candidate for his services. He visited Tuscaloosa in June.

"I went up there the second week of June," Taylor said. "I talked to the coaches about the U.S. Trials and what I did up there."

The Crimson Tide already has two players committed in the 2013 class, and Taylor has built relationships with both players.

"I'm friends with Shannon (Hale), and Jaren (Sina) and I were on the same team at the Lebron camp. It went good. We were on different strings, though. He was on second string, and I was on the first string."

The UA coaching staff has said they want to play Hale and Taylor together with Hale at power forward and Taylor playing center. Hale, who was also the Peach State, likes the idea of the two playing together one day.

"We're pretty good friends," Hale said. "We just talk every time we see each other at events like up here or at the EYBL. I like the way he plays. He's pretty good."

Tide in the mix for Mitchell
Georgia big man Charles Mitchell still hasn't narrowed his list of schools down but said that if he were to do it today, Alabama would be in there.

Mitchell, who is 6-foot-8, 240 pounds, has been focusing on the various camps he attended and the AAU tournaments he's playing in.

"It's going real great right now," Mitchell said. "I'm enjoying myself, but I really want to win. That's my biggest thing right now, I want to win a tournament."

The Rivals 100 player is developing his game and learning how to play better through all of the camps and tournaments he's been in.

"I'm learning how to slow down the game, pay attention to more things," Mitchell said. "I learned how to rebound and be better as a big man offensively and defensively."

Mitchell plans to visits a number of schools in August and make a decision before the early signing period in November.

Reach Greg Ostendorf at [email protected]

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