As 11:59 p.m. Thursday night turned into 12:00 a.m. Friday morning,hundreds, perhaps thousands ofFacebook messages, tweets and text messages were sent out to high school basketball recruits around the country.Thanks to a new rule approved by the Division I Board of Directors last October, men's basketball coaches and assistants were allowed to contact recruits through unlimited phone calls and texts, as well as social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter, beginning Friday.Any recruit who is finishing or has finished his sophomore year of high school is eligible to be contacted, meaning the recruiting classes of 2013 and 2014.The change came as a relief to many of the Division I coaches who had hoped the NCAA would understand the advanced, ever-changing technology that allowed contact to recruits at the click of a button.Twitter and Facebook have allowed just about any person, considered a third party in the recruiting process, to reach out and contact a recruit, which is illegal.While not all coaches are on board with the bombardment of messages and phone calls the teenage prospects will be receiving now on an unlimited basis, it is now a matter of keeping up with the times.The importance of the messages many coaches made to recruits late last night can be debated, but as one Division I assistant coach told CBSSports.com's Jeff Borzello:"We're just trying to do our jobs. If we aren't texting them, someone else is."Many of those recruits were able to speak with each other about which coaches texted which players, as many of them are currently attending the National Basketball Players Association Top 100 Camp.The four-day event is taking place in Virginia, and features some of the best players in the nation, including Simeon's Jabari Parker. The top 2013 recruit changed his phone number yesterday in advance of the barrage of texts he would have received.The other Illinois high school players in attendance include:Cliff Alexander, 6-foot-9 forward, Curie (2014)Billy Garrett, 6-foot-4 guard, Morgan Park (2013)Thomas Hamilton Jr., 6-foot-9 center, Whitney Young (2013)Malcolm Hill, 6-foot-5 guard, Belleville East (2013)Kendall Stephens, 6-foot-4 guard, St. Charles East (2013)Jaylon Tate, 6-foot-2 guard, Simeon (2013)
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Five Things to Watch:
1. Can the Bulls get one on the Bucks? The Bulls are 0-3 against the Bucks so far this season and it hasn't been pretty. The Bucks have won the previous three meetings all by double digits and by an average of 19 points. The youth and athleticism of the Bucks has been a tough matchup for the Bulls so far.
2. Containing Giannis. There may be no stopping Giannis Antetokounmpo, but the Bulls can at least try to contain him. Antetokounmpo is averaging 23 points and nearly nine rebounds per game. In three games against the Bulls this year he has averaged 29 points, 10 rebounds and 7.3 assists per contest. If the Bulls are to stay in the game, they will need to keep him to numbers lower than that.
3. Playoff implications. The Bulls playoff hopes are still alive with nine games remaining, but things are looking a bit bleak. The Bulls are a game and a half out of the eighth playoff spot, but only 3.5 games behind two teams tied for the No. 5 seed, the Bucks and the Atlanta Hawks. The Bucks have won three in a row to improve their position.
4. Mirotic on a roll. Streaky play is nothing new to Nikola Mirotic, but he's on a good run currently. After scoring a season-high 28 points on Wednesday against the Pistons, Mirotic followed that up with 15 points against the 76ers. Since missing three straight games earlier this month, Mirotic has scored in double figures in five of the last seven games and is averaging 15.6 points during that stretch.
5. Beginning of a tough stretch. The Bulls' playoff hopes could be made or broken in the next three games. After taking on the Bucks, which occupy a playoff spot, the Bulls host two more Eastern Conference playoff teams in Cleveland and Atlanta. The Bulls need to string some wins together and this is not an easy stretch to do so against.
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