Basketball recruiting notebook: Shaka with the shocker with Georgia recruit

The Cinderella story of this year’s March Madness beat out much bigger schools again this weekend — this time for one of Georgia’s top 2012 college basketball prospects.

Lovejoy High School’s Justin Tuoyo said he committed to VCU over Virginia Tech and Memphis, among others.

How did Virginia Commonwealth do it? A lot of it had to do with the star power of the team’s coach, Shaka Smart.

VCU's Shaka Smart can celebrate a big recruiting victory in Georgia (AP photo)

VCU's Shaka Smart can celebrate a big recruiting victory in Georgia (AP photo)

“We had a great relationship once we started talking,” Tuoyo told the AJC. “My mom liked him. We have a good relationship with the entire coaching staff. They are really good and they really wanted me. They recruited me harder than anybody, so that’s why I picked them over the other schools.”

The 6-foot-9, 205-pound Tuoyo said he was offered by ex-Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt, but didn’t know exactly where he stood with new coach Brian Gregory. “I haven’t talked to Georgia Tech in a few weeks,” Tuoyo said. “They came to my school two days in a row a few weeks ago. They just said they ‘were recruiting me.’ I didn’t know for sure if I still had an offer.”

Would that have made a difference? “No, sir. VCU is my school.”

What about UGA? “They stopped recruiting me back in March when they got some big men, so Georgia wasn’t on my list anymore.”

Back to the celebrity coach. Smart recently signed an 8-year contract extension, but there’s still speculation that bigger schools will try to lure him away again in the near future. “[Smart] told me he’s not going anywhere, he loves it there … so I doubt he leaves, said Tuoyo, who averaged 14 points and 7 blocks as a junior at Lovejoy.

  • UGA’s Mark Fox has Sunday visitors

Two of the Atlanta area’s top 2012 college basketball prospects, Union Grove point guard Charles Mann and North Clayton shooting guard Marcus Hunt, made unofficial visits with UGA coach Mark Fox on Sunday. Both were told that if they signed with UGA, they could compete immediately for playing time as a freshman. “Coach Fox said they won’t have too many shooters by that time,” Hunt said. “He wants me to be one of the shooters, and said that [Kentavious Caldwell-Pope] could play the wing. It would be good situation.”

  • The Power of Twitter

Former Pebblebook High School standout Damien Wilson, who now plays at Virginia’s Oak Hill prep school, committed to Memphis over the weekend via Twitter.

– By Michael Carvell, AJC Recruiting Blog


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17 comments Add your comment

[...] There was so much basketball stuff that happened this weekend involving Georgia Tech, UGA and Georgia kids that we created a different webpage to discuss it. Go here for more. [...]

bitter uga fan

May 16th, 2011
8:29 am

all the tallent in this state————what gives on the hoop side of things======go figure


May 16th, 2011
9:12 am

This guy is a 6′9″ 2 star center. He’ll need to develop a jump shot in college so he can play PF. A lot is made over the athletes in GA, but in reality most of the good ones go away to prep school. Of espn’s super 60, only 4 are listed as being from GA. While that is a good percentage from 1 state and HS basketball in GA is really great, this keeping guys in state doesn’t apply like it does for football. If you’re not recruiting at the national level you’ll never get anyone good.

Michael Carvell

May 16th, 2011
9:14 am

@GTJason, maybe in other years, but I couldn’t disagree (respectfully) with you more about Georgia’s 2012 college basketball recruiting class. It is the deepest in my 15 years at the AJC. At least 23 Georgia 2012 basketball prospects already have high D1 offers, according to Rivals. If Georgia Tech, UGA, and Georgia State don’t score big with recruiting within this state in 2012 — especially the Atlanta area — it will NOT be a good year in recruiting. Thanks for posting.

Coach Fox

May 16th, 2011
9:26 am

Too many basketball (and Yes, even football) think they are guaranteed to make the BIG $ in the NBA or NFL. The Dreams of turning pro far out weigh the classroom and thus many simply can’t meet the qualifying score for SEC much less ACC basketball. The new rules concerning colleges and grad rates has to come into perspective before offering extremely subpar students.


May 16th, 2011
9:52 am

It may be a shocker that he went with VCU but no in state school was really hurting for him. I agree with the prior post that kids need to come to college to get an education. only about thirty or forty a year will get to the NBA level. That means that basketball is your ticket to a good education and VCU can give that to Tuoyo but he will have to take advantage of the opportunity to earn a degree.

P.S. I am surprised to find so few comments on this blog. Where are all the basketball fans?

K from Da Wood

May 16th, 2011
10:55 am

There are a lot of great ballplayers in GA, but most of them are going other places. It is ok to take time to develop players. The true impact players that are freshman is a small percentage of the guys that actually sign to play. One year of intense one-on-one instruction is good for any player. Most of theses guys are just super athletic guys playing basketball. They still need to learn the game and understand it. The in state schools (GT,GA State, GSU, KSU, & UGA) need to do a better job of recruiting in state talent. There are plenty of colleges rounding out there rosters with 2 & 3 STAR talent from GA that are going to be great contributors and excellent college players. The instant gratification mentally is causing these local teams to overlook what’s in their backyard. There is a 6′9,6′10 kid that plays for Northview that has committed to Iowa, I telling you this kid can flat out play…inside, outside, ball handling, & defense. Sky is the limit for this kid once he gets to college. I’m not sure how hard the local schools recruited him, but obviously it wasn’t hard enough. The quality of players in GA is excellent. 3 or 4 of the top travel teams in nation are based right her in Metro Atlanta, not to mention a few nationally recognized HS teams. There is no reason why at least 50% of every roster @ D1 schools in GA should be in state talent. JMOP…

K from Da Wood

May 16th, 2011
10:57 am

CORRECTION: There is no reason why at least 50% of every roster @ D1 schools in GA shouldn’t be in state talent.


May 16th, 2011
2:50 pm

When talking about high school players, you should mention their GPA and some of their entrance test scores. That will help explain why they go out of state.


May 16th, 2011
2:50 pm

WHy do people keep saying the instate schools need to do a better job keeping recruits in state? There is so much talent in the state and most schools have an average of 3-4 scholarships a year while there are 21 guys in the state that will sign D1. Players from GA are going to leave no matter what!


May 16th, 2011
3:46 pm

The thing about mid-major Cinderellas is that they don’t last and they NEVER win championships.



May 16th, 2011
4:10 pm

Fox is DA MAN!!!!


May 16th, 2011
4:12 pm

The problem with keeping the best recruits in Georgia is that there are only two high major schools in Georgia. Georgia State comes close in the CAA, but as we can see in this situation, while the CAA is a great conference, GSU still has to prove itself worthy in basketball, otherwise good prospects will keep going to other CAA teams (like VCU)


May 16th, 2011
4:20 pm

Good article and Shaka Smart knows there is talent here in Georgia. That one Final Four appearance will open up a lot of doors for him.
Don’t be surprised to hear more from him.

gcs, mid-majors NEVER win championships….wow, Butler and VCU and Georga Mason have all been to the Final Four nad/or championship game and Georgia and Tech can’t boast about anything close to that. Butler looks like they have made lots of progress and 2009 was not a fluke despite them losing in the finals both years.

Wonder if this ‘2-star’ will be useful for VCU in the next 4 years….Va Tech and Memphis were in the running as well. Sounds like he has some potential. Good luck to another Georgia kid leaving the state.


May 16th, 2011
4:45 pm

I love the argument that the in-state schools can’t keep in-state talent.

2010-11 Roster for the Big 3 and players from the state of Georgia:
UGA – 11
GT – 7
Georgia State – 8

2011-12 Projected (signing period ends on Wednesday):
UGA – 8
GT – 8
Georgia State – 6

Basketball is not like football. You simply cannot take them all.


May 16th, 2011
6:19 pm

Memphis wasn’t actually recruiting him, but i guess saying they were is an ego thing…

William Casey

May 17th, 2011
10:50 am

@K DAWood: I saw the Northview kid play last Summer. Not at all surprised about Iowa choice. Real athletic “banger.” Big Ten fits his game. His defense was a little indifferent.