Healthy Rashad Vaughn gaining momentum

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- It appeared as if nobody would stop Theo Pinson (Greensboro, N.C./Wesleyan Christian) on Monday afternoon. In a highly anticipated matchup between Wesleyan Christian and Findlay Prep at the Spalding HoopHall Classic, the No. 13-ranked player in the Class of 2014 scored in every manner possible. Pinson scored his team’s first 11 points and entered the locker room at halftime with a game-high 18.

Then Rashad Vaughn (Golden Valley, Minn./Las Vegas Findlay Prep) took over.

Begging for the defensive assignment, Vaughn convinced Findlay head coach Jerome Williams to let him guard the North Carolina commit for the game’s final 20 minutes.

“Theo came out hot -- red hot -- in the first half,” Williams said. “In the locker room, Rashad was mad. He was the first one saying, ‘I want to guard him, coach. Give him to me. I don’t want to look at this no more.’ That’s why he started the second half, and rightfully so.”

It paid major dividends as Vaughn’s defensive prowess limited Pinson to five second-half points en route to a lopsided 73-44 Findlay win. Pinson appeared flustered down the stretch as the long-armed Vaughn wouldn’t allow any easy looks or drives to the hoop.

“I just put the handcuffs on him,” Vaughn said after the game. Vaughn, the No. 17 player in the Class of 2014, scored 12 points on 5-of-11 shooting in 22 minutes of action. He showed the long range coveted by many high-major programs and explosiveness to get to the basket.

The performance was particularly impressive considering the circumstances. It was Vaughn’s first game back from a knee injury that kept him out of the last six games. According to Williams, Vaughn had missed nearly two months and just returned to practice this week.

The initial plan was to ease him into a game environment, but when Pinson started heating up, Vaughn decided there was no time to tiptoe back into action.

"I felt a little winded, but not like I should have been,” he said. “Coach put us through a hard practice yesterday. I felt like I got a lot of my wind back. I thought I played well on the defensive end, shot well … I just felt the confidence coming back more and more.”

While Vaughn’s game returns to form, his recruitment continues to heat up.

Vaughn is currently the second-highest ranked uncommitted prospect in the 2014 class behind Myles Turner (Bedford, Texas/Trinity). He said he’s considering Iowa State, Kansas, North Carolina, UNLV and Kentucky. Wildcats head coach John Calipari and assistant Orlando Antigua watched much of Monday’s game from seats behind one of the hoops, and Vaughn admitted he noticed their presence.

He said he has a visit for North Carolina already set for next month. A trip to Kentucky, while not 100 percent, is also in the works. He hopes to make a college decision by late February or early March.

“I’ve got relationships with all the coaches,” Vaughn said. “It’s really about where I fit in and where I can get better as a player.”