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Tracking head coaches means tracking top recruiting targets

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We’ve discussed the July evaluation period a couple of times this week, as it’s become a topic of conversation among the folks that happen to populate my twitter feed.

It all got started on Monday when Sean Miller, Arizona’s head coach, took to twitter to rant about how much he disliked the new July schedule.

In a nutshell, these coaches are allowed on the road to evaluate for 15 days in a 19 day stretch, which can be a grind for both coaches and, more importantly, the players.

Here’s the irony in all of this: Miller is one of the few coaches that isn’t out on the road evaluating. He’s not in gyms trying to spot new players; he’s there to be spotted by the players he’s already recruiting. He’s on the road to be seen. He wants each and every one of the players that he covets to know that they are important enough to demand his full attention in the limited time he has to recruit.

He’s not alone, either. Take a gander at this nugget from Dave Telep’s latest recruiting blog:

Washington coach Lorenzo Romar has this habit of being real early and staying real late when watching key targets. Give the guy credit, he’s maxing out his face time. And trust me, players notice.

Take Tyus Jones, for example. The question was directed to him: Which head coach did you see the most? “From my point of view, I saw Coach Drew, Coach K, Coach Cal and Coach Self the most because they got to the games early,” Jones said, referring to Baylor’s Scott Drew, Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, Kentucky’s John Calipari and Kansas’ Bill Self. “I also saw coach Ben Johnson, the assistant from Minnesota, a lot.”

At the Peach Jam, coaches are right on top of the players so it was easy for the kids to see them. It was also easy for coaches to slide in and out of gyms with four games going on at the same time. Some coaches think they’re slick and will get there early, leave for another game and either try to claim presence the entire time or double-dip with two players at a time. Hey, there are different ways to get it done. All I’m saying is that the players notice and they talk. When Krzyzewski was the only coach in the gym a half hour before a game, he got a lot of credit.

The thing that makes Peach Jam so unique is that an overwhelming majority of the nation’s top prospects are in attendance, and since the event takes place in one facility, it makes it easy for those head coaches to bounce from game to game. This week, however, there are events in DC, in Milwaukee, in LA, in Philly. All over the place. Next week is Vegas, where all the tournaments are spread out around the city with a number of different events taking place.

Keep an eye on where those high-prolife head coaches — Coach Cal, Coach K, Roy Williams, Miller, etc. — are and who they are watching, and you should be able to get an idea of who they are zeroing in on.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

VIDEO: Winthrop’s Keon Johnson goes coast-to-coast for buzzer-beater

Winthrop's Keon Johnson (5) shoots a layup while defended by Coastal Carolina's Warren Gillis during the first half of the Big South Conference Championship college basketball game Sunday, March 8, 2015, in Conway, S.C. Coastal Carolina won 81-70. (AP Photo/Richard Shiro)
(AP Photo/Richard Shiro)
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Winthop earned a Big South road win at Radford on Saturday afternoon as junior guard Keon Johnson raced coast-to-coast and buried the game-winner at the buzzer.

The 5-foot-7 Johnson erupted for 32 points in the win and he’s been one of the most potent mid-major scorers in the country this season. The win moves Winthrop to 18-7 on the season and their 10-4 mark in the Big South ties them with UNC Asheville atop the conference standings.

(H/T: LiveonASN)

After blowout of South Carolina, is No. 22 Kentucky a Final Four contender?

Kentucky guard Tyler Ulis (3) guards the ball after a rebound during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Auburn, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016, in Auburn, Ala. Auburn won 75-70. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
(AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
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It only took 2:26 for official Doug Sirmons to plant two technical fouls on Kentucky head coach John Calipari, and that may have been the worst thing that could have happened to South Carolina.

He poked the bear, and the result was that a ticked off No. 22 Wildcat team proceeded to run the Gamecocks out of their own gym, 89-62.

The star of the show was interim head coach Tyler Ulis, who put together as dominating of a performance as you’ll ever see out of a player that stands 5-foot-9. Ulis finished with 27 points and 12 assists, hitting 4-for-8 from three and turning the ball over just once.

Marcus Lee added 11 points and 13 boards, including six on the offensive end, and Jamal Murray had his customary 26 points on 9-for-21 shooting, but the story of this game was Ulis.

I’m not sure I’ve ever seed a player under 6-foot capable of dominating a game the way that Ulis can dominate. Murray can take over with the best of them — we saw it against Florida and Ohio State — but when it comes to the NCAA tournament, this Kentucky team will go as far as Ulis carries them.

And based on the way that he’s played in the last six weeks, that could end up being pretty far. In SEC play, Ulis is averaging 19.4 points and 7.6 assists. He’s scored at least 17 points in 12 of the last 14 games and has notched as least five assists in all 14. He just orchestrated a total mollywhopping of a Frank Martin-coached team that was tied for first place in the SEC while playing without his head coach and on the road.

The issue with Kentucky is the same today as it was a month ago. They’re a two-man team with an inconsistent supporting cast. When their two studs play like this, they can beat anyone in the country. When they don’t, they can struggle against anyone.

But here’s the thing: When Ulis is playing the way that he’s played of late, they don’t really need all that much from their supporting cast. Derek Willis needs to be able to space the floor. Lee and Skal Labissiere need to be able to hold their own against opposing big men.

And when that happens?

Kentucky is clearly the best team in the SEC and good enough to be able to win four straight in the Big Dance and get to a Final Four.