Saturday, August 4, 2018

Evans Seven: Programs riding a wave of momentum into the fall

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USC's Andy Enfield
AP Images
The July evaluation periods have come to an end, and the next few weeks will lead to the majority of the Rivals150 players coming off the board. In this week’s Evans Seven, we assess the programs riding the greatest momentum into the fall, the ones that have the chance to finish the early signing period atop of the national rankings.

1. KENTUCKY 

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John Calipari
AP Images
Kentucky will remain a major threat on the recruiting front as along as John Calipari is the head coach in Lexington. The Wildcats lost the commitment of top 50 forward 
 on Monday, but they filled that hole with Thursday’s commitment of four-star  . More could be to come, as they will host five-star wing   this weekend and the Wildcats sit as the favorites in his final eight. 

In the end, however, all things lead back to 
. Memphis has picked up some ground there, and no one should ever discount a Calipari priority. If Wiseman declines the UK offer, could   become a Kentucky Wildcat? Many believed that it was a done deal for Duke, but Kentucky has made up major ground with the top 2019 prospect and should be deemed a legitimate contender for his commitment. 

The Wildcats remain a threat for five-stars 
 and   and if they do decide to pursue  , they could leapfrog into the favorites category for him, too. Throw in the already-secured commitment of top 10 guard   and it is clear that there are sunny days ahead for the SEC flag-bearers.

2. USC 

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Onyeka Okungwu
Nick Lucero/Rivals.com
While most of the talk will be about its potential, USC already has celebrated the commitments of four top 75 prospects this summer. The gems of the class are five-star big men 
 and  , teammates on the loaded Compton Magic program. They should immediately stabilize the Trojans’ frontcourt. 

The incoming pool of talent doesn’t stop there, as the Trojans have reeled in one of the top upside wing prospects out West in 
 and a dual-sport athlete in  . The two bring loads of versatility and immediate production to USC’s backcourt. 

The four-man class has allowed head coach Andy Enfield and his staff to prioritize its final need this summer in the backcourt. They sit in a good spot for 
, and  , four-star guards that have become known for their playmaking and scoring. Look for the Trojans to ride out the next few months with a top five class nationally.

3. MEMPHIS 

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Penny Hardaway
AP Images
Penny Hardaway already holds the commitment of four-star big man 
, and more is to come for the first-year head coach. The former NBA All-Star hit the ground running as Memphis patched together a top-25 class this spring and rode the momentum into the July evaluation periods. 

Five-star 
's recruitment is going down as one of the more interesting the industry has seen in recent years. Wiseman suited up for Hardaway’s former travel team during the spring and completed the summer with assistant coach Mike Miller’s former travel team. Alongside Wiseman was five-star forward  , another potential top-tier prospect that could call Memphis home. The new Tigers staff was also a consistent presence at games featuring Jalen Green and  ’ games, proof that they are not afraid to go after the big fish. Much is riding on Wiseman and where he eventually lands, but the month of July did not hurt the Tigers' chances with the big man that Hardaway formerly coached on the travel and high school circuits.

4. DUKE 

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Mike Krzyzewski
AP Images
While the Blue Devils have yet to strike in the 2019 class, they still sit in a great spot for some of the best in the Rivals150. Five-star guard 
 will take an unofficial visit to Durham next weekend, and Coach K and his staff were a consistent presence at most of his games in July. If it's not James in the backcourt, it could be top-ranked guard  . While he and his family have kept things close to vest, many believe that the Blue Devils sit among the teams to beat. 
 is down to a final five, but it looks as if it is a battle between VillanovaFloridaand Duke for him. Meanwhile, Duke remains among the top contenders for   and  . Keep tabs on  , too, as the five-star 2020 guard could reclassify into the 2019 class, and Durham could be his college landing spot. 

The Blue Devils are not struggling to find traction in the frontcourt, either, because 
 and   see the Blue Devils in a good light. Chances are good that Duke lands two of the four, and that would reflect a solid month spent on the road for the Blue Devils.

5. OHIO STATE

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Chris Holtmann
AP Images
Chris Holtmann worked wonders in the coach’s box last winter, and he did the same on the recruiting trail in Ohio State's fight for a premier 2019 class. He began with 
, a tremendously talented forward and the best in-state prospect. The momentum of the program got ramped up another few levels when the Buckeyes defeated Michigan and Indiana for five-star guard  . Many believed that OSU was the third horse in the race, and Carton’s commitment was a boon for Holtmann’s crew, one that gives the program the chance to place even greater attention on completing its class earlier than many others. 

The Buckeyes' top target is 
, a top-50 forward. He will visit Columbus in September, and while Ohio State will have to defeat IllinoisMissouriKansas State and a handful of others, Liddell could end up in Columbus. OSU also used July to gain greater in-roads with  and  . Chances are the Buckeyes land at least one of those Rivals150 prospects, which would equate to a top-tier class this fall.

6. UCONN 

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Dan Hurley
AP Images
The administration in Storrs hired Dan Hurley not just to win ballgames but also to win some of the bigger recruiting battles. The Huskies are in a prime spot to do just that. While they have yet to strike in the 2019 class, their chances of doing so - and in a major way - are clear. 
Their top target, 
, is a top-10 forward that many believe is a recruiting battle between UConn and St. John’s, with the Huskies in the slight lead.  , one of the top performers in July, is a highly coveted prospect that Hurley’s bunch is definitely atop of the pecking order for, along with SyracuseProvidence and Georgetown  is another name to keep tabs on, as is  . They are two interior prospects that think highly of UConn. 

The backcourt remains a bit of a mystery, but the Huskies have a solid chance with Rivals150 guard 
 and they have begun to actively recruit  and  . Three months from now, UConn could have a top 10 class nationally. That's something Huskies fans have not been able to say since their Big East days.

7. VILLANOVA 

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Eric Dixon
Kelly Kline / Under Armour
Jay Wright has been unable to be a part of the final evaluation period because he is a staff member for the United States senior national team. But Villanova has come out of July with tons of momentum, and could end up with its best class in recent years. 
Villanova has already secured the pledges of four-star seniors 
 and  . However, the best could still be to come, as the Wildcats are the dark horse for top-10 big man  , though defeating Duke and Michigan State may be difficult. But the Wildcats also have a more-than-solid chance with either   or  , a recent reclassified guard into the 2019 class, is down to a final 10, though many believe his commitment will come down to ArizonaDuke or Villanova
, a travel teammate of Dixon’s, has kept Villanova high on his list. Josh Green, a travel teammate of Mannion’s, has not said much about his recruitment, but rest assured that the Wildcats sit in a good spot.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Eric Bossi's Las Vegas blog: Friday 7/27/18

Reprint/Eric Bossi • BasketballRecruiting.Rivals.com
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NIck Lucero
Nick Lucero
LAS VEGAS -- It's the halfway point of July's final live period. National Basketball Analyst Eric Bossi is checking in with another blog. Today, he's covering all of Friday's news and action.

COACHES HOLD CONVENTION FOR DRIVE NATION AND LOUISIANA SUPREME

 35 
NATIONAL
   
STATE
   
POSITION
6'7" 170 LBS SF
ROCKWALL
ROCKWALL, TX
CLASS OF 2019
UNDECIDED
If it seems like I've seen a lot of Drive Nation over the past few weeks it's because I have. But, it has been for good reason. There just aren't many (if any) other teams out there with as many high level players who appear to have wide open school lists.
 and   each ranks in the top 40 nationally and carries huge school lists. Four-star point guard   has a lengthy one while three-star forwards   and   are each being chased by many.
The Louisiana Supreme squad they are playing is no slouch either and after seeing him play a few times I'm liking center 
 as a good and tough big with some mobility. HIgh school teammates   and   have also been a lot of fun to watch and look to be helping themseives this week in Vegas.
Now for the coaches list, I did my best to spot as many as I could and keep in mind that most of these head coaches have assistants with them and most of the schools with only assistants here are rolling with at least two. Head coaches I've spotted are from Louisville, Michigan State, Louisiana Lafayette, Arizona, UAB, Texas A&M, TCU, Alabama, Little Rock, Baylor, Marquette, Georgia, Texas Tech, LSU, Tulsa, Michigan, SMU, Oklahoma State, UTSA, Illinois and Kansas State. As for assistants, these schools (at least) are here., Harvard, Florida, Miami, Florida International, UT Arlington, Kansas, Memphis, Texas, Princeton, Purdue, Arkansas State, Little Rock, Incarnate Word, Oregon, Oregon State, Texas State, Tennessee, Gonzaga, Oklahoma, Indiana, Richmond and more.

HAMPTON REFLECTS ON USA BBALL, LOOKS FORWARD TO FALL

 4 
NATIONAL
   
STATE
   
POSITION
6'4" 170 LBS PG
LITTLE ELM
LITTLE ELM, TX
CLASS OF 2020
UNDECIDED
The top ranked point guard in the class of 2020, 
 was part of USA Basketball's gold medal winning 17U team at the FIBA World Cup in July. He was thrilled to win a gold medal and loved the experience, he just wishes that he could have contributed more.
"The experience was great," said Hampton. "But it really taught me about how you have to preserve yourself and your body. I wanted to be out there so bad.
"To go through nine days of training camp with those guys and then only be able to play in two games because of injury was hard."
Still, Hampton wouldn't trade his experience for anything and he's back on the floor here in Vegas with his Mudiay Elite team. He won't say it, but they just don't have the firepower that other teams do so there's a lot of pressure on him to do a bit of everything. But, the bright side of it is that he can. While he's a scorer first, he's still a big time passer and he's learning to step up and be more vocal as a leader.
Hampton is also paying attention to who has been watching on the sidelines during July.
"I've seen Texas and Kansas at every game," said Hampton. "Memphis, Duke, Kentucky, TCU is always there, SMU and Michigan has been at like every game too."
When he gets back home, Hampton says that he'll be looking to schedule visits. He's looking to get to Michigan in August, said he will hit Texas for a football game, is looking at Kentucky for Big Blue Madness and said he'd also like to get to Duke and Kansas for games this season.

CHRISTIAN BRAUN'S RECRUITMENT TOOK OFF THIS MONTH

   
NATIONAL
   
STATE
   
POSITION
6'5" 180 LBS SF
BLUE VALLEY NORTHWEST
OVERLAND PARK, KS
CLASS OF 2019
UNDECIDED
Things have really taken off for rising senior small forward Christian Braun during the month of July.
Having grown to about 6-foot-6 now, the skilled and hard playing wing for Mokan Elite began the month of July with offers from Missouri State, Loyola (Chicgao), Lehigh and Ole Miss. Since a big time performance at the Peach Jam, Braun has now added offers from Minnesota, Wake Forest, Kansas State, Tulane and Saint Louis. Additionally, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Purdue are now showing interest.
A hard worker who is well coached on the grassroots and high school level, Braun had faith that his time would come.
"I'm not surprised," said Braun about the new attention. "I think that I was put in a good position to succeed so I've been taking full advantage of my opportunities."
Braun told me that he has been to Kansas State unofficially and Bruce Weber was watching with an assistant on Friday -- as were Travis Ford and Richard Pitino among others -- but he's not yet thought about his official visits and won't do so for a bit.
For now, he's just trying to finish out July strong with the same formula that has proven successful for him to date.
"I just go out and play hard," said Braun. "Ever since the Peach Jam that has really opened everything up for me."

MOKAN AND MEANSTREETS ATTRACTING BIG FOLLOWING

 5 
NATIONAL
   
STATE
   
POSITION
6'10" 225 LBS C
SUNRISE CHRISTIAN ACADEMY
BEL AIRE, KS
CLASS OF 2020
UNDECIDED
Staying at The 8, Mokan Elite (with former star 
 on the bench supporting) and Meanstreets have attracted a huge following.
Headlined by five-star prospect 
, Mokan also features heavily coveted top 50 forward   and Rivals150 guard  . This month, wing   has seen his recruitment take off as well as he's been earning high major offers (MinnesotaKansas StateWake Forest, Saint Louis and more) over the past few weeks.
For Chicago-based Meanstreets, four-star shooter 
, four-star combo forward   and class of 2020 four-star guards   and   are drawing tons of attention.
So whose here to see them? A lot of coaches, that's who.
So far I've seen head coaches from KansasKansas StateMichigan StateIowaMissouriMississippi StateLSUSouth Carolina, Saint Louis, MinnesotaIndiana, Valpo, Notre Dame, Creighton, Colorado and Louisiana Tech. I've also seen assistants from Virginia Tech, Cal Poly, UT Arlington, IllinoisOregonOklahoma, Milwaukee, USC, Xavier, Oregon State, San Diego State, Colorado State, NebraskaPurdue, TCU, Saint Mary's, Middle Tennessee State, Western Illinois, DePaul and Northwestern, just to name a few.

HOUSE GOES OFF IN FRONT OF FUTURE COACH

 106 
NATIONAL
   
STATE
   
POSITION
6'1" 160 LBS PG
SHADOW MOUNTAIN
PHOENIX, AZ
CLASS OF 2019
VERBAL COMMIT
12/22/2017
ARIZONA STATE
Bobby Hurley had to have liked what he saw from his four-star committed guard 
.
Showing shades of his father -- scoring machine Eddie House -- House had things cooking offensively on Friday morning for Team Whynot. He's not a crazy athlete, he doesn't have extreme size or athleticism but House sure has skill scoring the ball and confidence for days and those things can carry him far.
At Arizona State, Hurley lets his guards play a pretty freewheeling and aggressive style. House should be a perfect fit for that style.

THINGS TAKING OFF FOR JALEN GRAHAM

   
NATIONAL
   
STATE
   
POSITION
6'8" 190 LBS PF
MOUNTAIN POINTE
PHOENIX , AZ
CLASS OF 2019
UNDECIDED
One of the best stories of the month of July is that of 
. The bouncy, shot blocking four man from Phoenix began the month of July with no Division One scholarship offers and little in the way of interest. That's all changed. Significantly.
I was able to catch up with Graham after he and Team Whynot won a close one over Team Melo and to say things have taken off is an understatement.
Graham told me that since putting himself on the radar at the Peach Jam at the beginning of the month he's landed offers from OklahomaTexas TechIllinois, Weber State, Montana State, Fresno State, Grand Canyon and Northern Arizona.
"It's kind of crazy really," said Graham. "It's amazing, it's a powerful thing to have happen for me."
Graham is still fielding interest and things are so new to him he's in no rush, but he is starting to build some relationships and said that so far Oklahoma and Texas Tech were sticking out as programs that he would be interested in visiting officially.

JUSTIN LEWIS HAS BIG GAME, THINKING POSSIBLE VISIT

 93 
NATIONAL
   
STATE
   
POSITION
6'6" 212 LBS SF
BALTIMORE POLY
BALTIMORE, MD
CLASS OF 2020
UNDECIDED
Playing for Team Melo in The 8, 2020 four-star forward 
 had an inspired effort against Team Whynot.
Lewis attacked the rim strong, was big on the glass, showed some athleticism in traffic and did everything he could to help his team secure a win. He wasn't able to get a win, but there's no doubt he has to feel good about his effort. Lewis wasn't a one-man team either, 2020 five-star forward 
 had a big game as well. His jumper looked good and with his size and length he can be a real matchup nightmare facing the rim and causing teams to try and figure out whether to guard him with a wing who will be giving up height or a big man that will give up quickness.

Lewis told me that he has offers from Georgia TechGeorgetownMarylandTexas TechBoston College, UNLV and St. John's among others and that he's been to both Maryland and Georgetown unofficially.
He doesn't have a date locked in just yet, but Lewis would like to check out West Virginiasometime in the next month.