The transfer portal season has finally given way, with the surprise commitment of Emoni Bates to Eastern Michigan the last major announcement of the offseason.
Now is the time for traditional high school recruiting in men’s college basketball, with college coaches hitting the road this month to watch the top prospects of the Class of 2023 (and beyond) in action at major events. basic recruitment programs sponsored by Nike, Adidas and Under Armour.
here AthleticismExperts answer some key questions about the state of recruiting and what to expect this month.
Where are the big events in July?
The three major shoe companies are planning their events for open windows when NCAA coaches are allowed to go watch the best against the best basketball. The first is July 7-10. Nike’s EYBL is in Kansas City, Adidas’ 3SSB is in Rock Hill, South Carolina, while Under Armor’s UAA is in Emerson, Georgia.
The last window of the summer is July 20-24, with each circuit hosting its championship event. Nike’s famous Peach Jam is back in North Augusta, South Carolina, while Adidas is in Los Angeles and Under Armor is in Chicago.
Who is the #1 prospect in the country?
This is still up for debate, even though it centers around two names. First up is guard DJ Wagner, who is the No. 1 prospect in the nation according to the 247Sports Composite and ranked No. 1 by ESPN.com. The other three major services (247Sports, Rivals, and On3) all ranked it #2. They all had GG Jackson ranked #1; the 6-foot-8 forward is committed to North Carolina.
Wagner is the best known prospect, with famous lineages. His grandfather, Milt, played in Louisville in the 1980s, and his father, Dajuan, was a star in Memphis and a former high school freshman himself. The youngest Wagner, a 6-foot-3 combo guard, is a star in Camden, NJ, and it’s shaping up to be a Kentucky vs. Louisville battle (more on that in a minute).
Some of the other best players in the country are Mackenzie Mgbako (6-8 striker), Justin Edwards (6-7 winger), Mookie Cook (6-7 winger), Robert Dillingham (6-2 guard) and Matas Buzelis (6-wing winger). 9).
Which schools are off to a good start?
It’s remarkable: Duke went from the winningest coach in men’s college basketball history, the legendary Mike Krzyzewski, to a newbie with no previous experience, Jon Scheyer – and in a way, his recruiting improved ? Yeah. Scheyer first gained notoriety as a recruiting genius when he was Coach K’s assistant, helping the Blue Devils attract top talent like Jayson Tatum and Zion Williamson. But in the year since he was announced as Krzyzewski’s successor, he’s taken Duke recruiting to a new level, landing the No. the same in 2023. Big men Mackenzie Mgbako and Sean Stewart are ranked No. 3 and 9 respectively in the 247Sports Composite, 6-5 point guard Caleb Foster is No. 20 and 6-2 guard Jared McCain is ranked 24th. It’s a ridiculous run for someone who’s only ever coached 2.5 games, and with all that experience replacing an otherwise incompetent Krzyzewski.
Scheyer’s next step is to prove not only that he can accumulate talent, but that he can elevate it. Duke’s NBA pipeline is well established, but continuing to attract elite-caliber freshmen is paramount to the program. Where most college basketball has turned to experience, Duke hasn’t because he hasn’t needed it — yet. If Scheyer shows he can quickly and effectively get groups of fabulous freshmen to gel (and win) like his predecessor, then this whole machine should keep humming. The only danger is that draft pedigree starts to go down or Duke starts losing five-star players to the transfer portal instead of the pros. Neither seems likely, however, with the amount of talent Scheyer has absorbed so far. It’s hard to be better than #1, outside of maintaining that rate.
Hubert Davis has just welcomed his first full recruiting class to Chapel Hill – last year doesn’t really count, as he was promoted to head coach in April with two signers already signed up – so we’ll see what kind of impact this quartet can have. In Seth Trimble, Jalen Washington, Tyler Nickel and Will Shaver (who signed up in January and was with the team in their national title game), Davis has four players with the potential to contribute immediately, but none guarantees to be good enough to leave after one season. Finding guys in that middle ground becomes increasingly important as they become the experienced players that suitors depend on, but ideally you’d like to have elite five-star guys too. Especially to a blue blood like UNC.
Enter 2023, then, where Davis already has two five-star commitments in GG Jackson and Simeon Wilcher, the former of which could become UNC’s first No. 1 overall recruit since Harrison Barnes in 2010. These two aren’t just a influx of talent; they’re the caliber of rookies who, if successful, will once again make North Carolina a viable (and cool) five-star destination. That’s not to say the Tar Heels don’t get five stars as-is; in Armando Bacot and Caleb Love, there are two on the current roster. But if Davis’ first class and then his five-star first class in 2023 have more impact than last year’s duo of Dontrez Styles and D’Marco Dunn, we could very soon see UNC return to the top of the national recruiting rankings. Coming within a half of winning the national title in Davis’ inaugural season didn’t hurt either. —Brendan Marks
Kentucky is probably in the best position to nab Duke — if anyone does — for the No. 1 class this cycle. John Calipari and his team have already locked in commitments for No. 1 point guard (Robert Dillingham) and No. 5 combo guard (Reed Sheppard) in the 247Sports Composite. These guys are ranked #7 and #22 overall. The Wildcats are also big favorites to land 7-footer Aaron Bradshaw, the No. 2 center and No. 15 overall prospect in the class, overnight. This one is particularly noteworthy, as Bradshaw is a high school and grassroots teammate with Wagner. Landing Bradshaw would give the UK three former Wagner teammates, including his half-brother, as well as Calipari, who coached his father, Dajuan, at Memphis. It’s a solid response to rival Louisville, who became a major player in this once-ordained recruiting by bringing on Wagner family friend Kenny Payne as head coach and Milt Wagner in an off-court role.
Both the Cats and Cards have expressed confidence behind the scenes that they will land DJ, making it one of the juiciest recruiting battles in the history of the rivalry. But Kentucky could still land a monster class even without Wagner. Calipari is trying to fend off Tennessee for winger Justin Edwards, steal and steal Oregon, disengage Mookie Cook and beat Arkansas for power forward Ron Holland. These three ranks No. 4, 5, and 11, respectively, among rising high schoolers. The Cats are also favorites to land center Ugonna Kingsley Onyenso, a top-25 player who could upgrade and sign up this fall. Clearly Calipari, who traveled to Spain to see Wagner, Holland and a handful of UK 2024 targets compete for USA Basketball at the U17 World Cup, wants to send a message with this transport. That he still has it. —Kyle Tucker
What about G League Ignite?
The NBA’s developmental arm remains a player in space, with an existing commitment from Buzelis, who is currently the No. 6 prospect nationally.
The G League Ignite is far from over, and there’s also Overtime Elite, which debuted last year and could have two top-five picks in the 2023 NBA draft.
There are questions about Jackson’s path in the future. He would be draft eligible in 2023 if he chose to pursue something other than college basketball. Mikey Williams is another big name in this space: he’s a NIL dream with 3.7 million Instagram followers as it stands, an existing shoe deal with Puma, and has kept his options open, including attending HBCU North Carolina Central. Williams recently paid an official visit to Kansas.
What other stories to watch this month?
- There is a plot around Bronny James, LeBron’s son. Bronny, a four-star recruit playing on the EYBL circuit for Strive For Greatness. He’s been playing his recruiting very close to the vest, but as he approaches his senior season in high school, he’ll start to become clearer in which direction he’s headed.
- Cook just left Oregon. Many coaches will be lining up to watch it this month for EYBL’s Oakland Soldiers.
- Among the notable freshman coaches hitting the road this month with a new polo or title: Scheyer, Payne, Shaheen Holloway (Seton Hall), Matt McMahon (LSU) and Todd Golden (Florida).
- Wagner and Stewart lead the U.S. U17 World Cup squad, but many coaches will fly to Spain to check out some of the others, including Holland (No.10 in 2023), center Dennis Evans (No. No. 18 prospect in 2023), guard Ian Jackson (No. 2 prospect in 2024), winger Karter Knox (No. 10 in 2024) and winger Cooper Flagg (prospect 2025).
- Oklahoma State received some good news to start the week, with coach Mike Boynton securing a commitment from center Brandon Garrision. The Oklahoma City product is in the top 60 for the Class of 2023.
(Top photo by Simeon Wilcher: Courtesy Jon Lopez/Nike)