Josh Verlin (@jmverlin)
In the world of college basketball recruiting, there are no bigger 15 days on the calendar than the July live recruiting periods.
It’s when the 350-plus Division I programs around the nation narrow in on their biggest targets in the rising senior class and identify key prospects for the following year, at huge AAU tournaments and elite camps taking place all over the country. Many of the top events are now run by the shoe companies (Nike, Under Armour & Adidas), with the “shoe-affiliated” programs snatching up much of the top prep talent. But there are still plenty of good non-affiliated camps, tournaments and programs worth noting, and it’s all covered below.
The live periods are split into three five-day segments, each of which runs Wednesday at 5 PM through Sunday at 5 PM: July 8-July 12, July 15-19 and July 22-26.
While most Division I schools are heavily focused on putting together their incoming 2016 classes, quite a few have already turned their eyes towards 2017. And there are a number of players in that class in the CoBL coverage area who already have a few offers under their belts, but likely nothing compared to what they'll get in the next few weeks.
Playing up with WE R1's 17U squad on the Under Armour circuit, Neumann-Goretti (Pa.) G Quade Green enters July with offers from USC, Xavier, Virginia Teach, Michigan State, Penn State, Temple, Maryland and more. Now recovered from an ankle injury that had him out part of May and most of June, the 6-foot combo guard with the sweet shooting stroke could be in for a huge July alongside fellow elite 2017 prospect Trevon Duval (St. Benedict's, N.J.) in the backcourt.
Also playing up on the 17U circuit, with Team Final on Nike's EYBL circuit, is Reading (Pa.) guard Lonnie Walker. The 6-4 shooting guard has been reeling in offers even through May and July, with Ohio State, Stanford, UCLA and Miami (Fl.) recently joining a list that also includes Indiana, Villanova, Oregon and more. A strong student in the classroom as well as on the court, Walker's offer list could easily hit 30 or more if he doesn't commit early in the cycle.
Though he’s not from the Philadelphia area, Mohammed Bamba does play his high school basketball at the Westtown School (Pa.), and he’s certainly worth noting here. The rising junior--who stands a lanky 6-11 but can pass, handle and shoot better than most guards--is a fantastic talent and a great student to boot, and his recruitment is reaching the highest possible levels. While Kansas, UConn, Syracuse, Arizona, Texas, Villanova, Maryland and many others have already offered, Bamba has said there’s one school in particular he’s hoping to land a scholarship from: Duke. Don’t be surprised if it happens this month.
Aside from this trio, a number of other area 2017s could start pulling in a few more offers (or their first few) within the next few weeks: Nick Alikakos (SF/Episcopal Academy/Team Final), David Beatty (SG/TBD/Philly Pride), Eli Brooks (PG/Spring Grove/Jersey Shore Warriors), Myles Cale (SG/Appoquinimink/South Jersey Jazz), Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree (PF/Neumann-Goretti/Team Final), Jalen Gabbidon (SG/Harrisburg Academy/York Ballers), Sam Iorio (SF/Parkland/Jersey Shore Warriors), Koby Thomas (SF/Imhotep Charter/Team Philly) and D’Andre Vilmar (SG/Roman Catholic/Team Final), to name a few.
Here are several more several storylines, events & players & to track:
Nike Peach Jam
When: July 8-12
Where: Riverview Activity Center; North Augusta, S.C.
Who: The top 20 programs in Nike’s Elite Youth Basketball League (EYBL), including many of the nation’s top prospects.
Local Talent: Team Final. The only Nike-backed program in the Philadelphia region had a solid EYBL regular season, going 11-7, but they’re not the favorites heading into the championships of a loaded field. Nevertheless, this is an impressive group, led by the Roman Catholic quartet of Nazeer Bostick, a Penn State commit, high-major targets PG Tony Carr and SF Lamar Stevens, plus mid-major PF prospect Paul Newman. Lonnie Walker, a 2017 SG from Reading, is on the cusp of a breakout summer, recently picking up offers from UCLA, Stanford and Ohio State. And then there’s Hershey (Pa.) big man Dylan Painter, who’s gone from an unknown post player to a multi-dozen offer high-major target in the span of two months. Josh Sharkey (PG/Archbishop Carroll), Tucker Lescoe (SG/Cocalico) and Vaughn Covington (PG/Neumann-Goretti) round out the squad.
And while elite prospect Tyus Battle--who recently de-committed from Michigan--is on the roster, it remains to be seen if he'll take the court with Team Final for the first time this summer. What ultimately will make or break Team Final's chances down in North Augusta is the health of Carr, who's been dealing with a hip flexor injury suffered two weeks ago during a summer league game. If he's healthy, they have a good chance to make a run; if not, it'll be tough to see them getting too deep without their high-major floor general. Either way, there will be plenty of high-major coaches tracking Team Final throughout their summer, whether it’s at Peach Jam, at the Team Takeover event in DC during the second live period or out in Las Vegas at the Fab 48 event the third week.
Under Armour All-America Camp
When: July 7-10
Where: Queens University; Charlotte, N.C.
Who: The top 80 players in the Under Armour Association will take part in the four-day camp.
Local Talent: The entire starting five of WE R1 has been invited: Trevon Duval, Quade Green, Sedee Keita, Kodye Pugh and Nysier Brooks. Also expected to attend are Philly Pride’s DeAndre Hunter and South Jersey Jazz’s Myles Cale.
Under Armour Association Finals
When: July 15-18
Where: Suwanee Sports Academy; Suwanee, Ga.
Who: The top 16 teams in the Under Armour Association.
Local Talent: The CoBL region is very well-represented in the Under Armour’s AAU championships, with two major programs that are both in the running to emerge as champions on the 18th.
The champions of the “Hungry” division with a 9-3 record, WE R1 was tied for the best record in the UAA, and thanks to that backcourt of Green and Duval will certainly be considered one of the favorites in Suwanee. This is a team with an imposing front line, as well, with 6-foot-10 Cincinnati commit Nysier Brooks (Life Center, N.J.) and 6-10 high-major target Sedee Keita (22 Feet Academy, S.C.) leading a group that also includes 6-9 Josh Warren (Downingtown West, Pa.) and 6-8 Richmond Aririguzoh (Trenton Catholic, N.J.). Playing in Green’s injury absence last month was Jordan Allen (Dover, Del.), a 6-3 shooting guard who could be a big x-factor in the title chase. Marquise Bell (2016/SG/Trenton Catholic, N.J.), Kodye Pugh (2017/SF/Blair Academy, N.J.) and Maurice Williams (2016/SF/Life Center) complete WE R1’s top team.
Finishing just one game behind them was another strong challenger, Philly Pride, who also has a few high-major targets sprinkled on a team full of Division I prospects. The top prospect is top-100 wing DeAndre Hunter, a 6-7 rising senior at Friends’ Central (Pa.) who can score it from all three levels; St. John’s, Miami (Fl.), NC State, Temple, Oklahoma State and more are chasing him. He’s just one of several talented wings with great size, including 6-6 Saint Joseph’s commit Charlie Brown (St. Thomas More, Conn.); 6-6 Josh Townsend (Imhotep Charter), 6-7 Rasool Samir (Martin Luther King, Pa.) and 6-8 Tyere Marshall (22 Feet Academy, S.C.) bring the toughness down low. Maybe the most intriguing member of the team is combo guard Kobe Gantz (J.P. McCaskey, Pa.), who’s being recruited by Wisconsin; a few strong games and the Badgers will have plenty of high-major competition for Gantz’s services. The Conwell-Egan duo of Stevie Jordan and LaPri McCray-Pace, Imhotep guard Jaekwon Carlyle and Chester forward Maurice Henry complete the roster for head coach Sean Colson.
Hoop Group Elite Camps
When: July 8-10, July 15-17 (Elite); July 22-24 (Academic)
Where: Albright College; Reading, Pa.
Who: Hundreds and hundreds of high school prospects from around the country taking part in multi-day camps consisting of hundreds of games on dozens of courts. The Hoop Group camps are a little overwhelming at first, but there’s a lot of talented players throughout the camps and the D-I coaches will flock to Reading like they do every year.
Local Talent: Too many to name. The Hoop Group camps are always stocked with Division I, II and III talent from across the country, and the coaches follow.
Hoop Group Team Camp
When: July 11-12
Where: Albright College, Reading, Pa.
Who: Top high school teams from the region and around the country.
Local Talent: TBD
Hoop Group Summer Jam Fest
When: July 17-19
Where: Spooky Nook Sports; Manheim, Pa.
Who: A few hundred regional (and some national) AAU programs, including several sneaker-affiliated programs without events this period.
Elevate Hoops Tournaments
When: July 8-10
Where: Philadelphia University; Philadelphia, Pa.
When: July 11-12
Where: Philadelphia University; Philadelphia, Pa.
Live in AC
When: July 22-24
Where: Stockton College; Galloway, N.J.
When: July 25-26
Where: Competitive Edge Sports, King of Prussia, Pa.
Who: All of the Elevate Hoops events are AAU team tournaments, drawing both regional and national talent pools. The Showdown, which used to be the follow-up event to the now-defunct Reebok Breakout Classic, should be a smaller but talent-filled event at Philly U, while Live in AC tends to draw a lot of very good affiliated and non-affiliated programs down to the Jersey Shore for a few days. All four will have programs that will attract dozens of Division I coaches.
Two more programs to note...
Though there are plenty of quality AAU programs throughout Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware, there are two we haven't mentioned yet here that are of particular interest to those following the recruiting scene.
The Jersey Shore Warriors, who will be playing at the Elevate Hoops Icebreaker, Hoop Group Summer Jam Fest and Live in the AC, have plenty of Division I prospects on the roster, especially in the Ivy/Patriot range. Ryan Daly (SG/Archbishop Carroll) just added his fourth offer, Chuck Champion (SG/Friends' Central) picked up his first (Loyola, Md.) in April and Pat Andree (F/Christian Brothers) has a number of mid-major programs interested in his 6-7 frame and ability to shoot the ball.
Team Philly, the area's Adidas-sponsored program, will be playing at both Elevate Hoops events the first week, the Summer Jam Fest in the second and the Adidas Super 64 Championships in Las Vegas during the third. Downingtown West shooting guard Ryan Betley already has a few suitors in Lafayette, Penn and Brown, and a few of his teammates are trying to join him with their first few Division I offers: Xzavier Malone (SG/Plymouth-Whitemarsh) is waiting on his first, while Jabri McCall (PG/Academy New Church) and Devon Goodman (PG/Germantown Academy) have one each but are looking for more.