College Basketball Talk’s Recruiting Roundup

Leave a comment
source:
(adidas)

Each Monday and Friday, College Basketball Talk’s Scott Phillips goes over some important news and notes in the world of college basketball recruiting. This week, UCLA’s big unofficial visits, Brandon Ingram sets an official visit, Josh Sharma has three schools in mind and Donovan Mitchell is down to five.

A big week for UCLA 

While UCLA has been in the news recently for the flooding at Pauley Pavilion, they still have some very good news on the recruiting front this week as they will have unofficial visits from two of the best small forwards in the country in Georgia native Jaylen Brown and North Carolina native Brandon Ingram.

Both Class of 2015 wings are five-star prospects and both the 6-foot-7 Brown and 6-foot-8 Ingram confirmed with NBCSports.com that they will visit UCLA’s campus after the completion of adidas Nations on Monday night.

Despite the flooding, neither elite prospect seems to mind that some of the facilities won’t be apart of their campus tours.

“I think it’s going to be pretty good. I talked with [UCLA assistant coach] David Grace and they said it wasn’t going to hurt my visit,” Ingram said of the flooding. “So we’re going up there August the 5th and I’m just looking forward to meeting with the coaches, meeting with the players there already and seeing how they like it.”

Brown also joked about the response he’s received on Twitter about his visit to UCLA, saying to NBCSports.com, “[The UCLA coaches] said that Pauley is down, but it’s alright. Everybody is tweeting me like it’s going to have some type of effect on my decision or something. It’s not. It’s fine. Kentucky fans have been using that to their advantage. It’s hilarious. They’re like, ‘Come to Kentucky, we have clean locker rooms,’ and stuff like that, but the UCLA fans go back at them like, ‘We’ll have brand-new locker rooms by the time you get there,’ so it’s funny to see stuff like that.”

With three first-round draft picks in the 2014 NBA Draft, it appears that elite recruits are taking notice of Steve Alford’s uptempo style at UCLA and how they can use it for their advantage. The recruiting process is still early for both Brown and Ingram, but UCLA getting them on campus is a good start to what is sure to be a busy fall.

Ingram, meanwhile, has an official visit set up to Duke from August 7th through August 9th and Brown would like to make an unofficial visit to Kentucky in September.

Josh Sharma is targeting three

As a legitimate seven-footer and top-100 prospect in the 2015 class, Josh Sharma has plenty of suitors in his recruitment.

Three schools have currently set themselves apart from the pack, however, as Sharma broke down his top three to NBCSports.com, including an upcoming unofficial visit.

“I have offers from a bunch of places but right now I’m focusing on Stanford, Wisconsin and Boston College and a couple others. But those are my main three right now,” Sharma said. “I’m visiting Stanford, August 6th. Me and my Mom are going up there after [adidas Nations] on an unofficial visit. But besides that, I haven’t planned any officials yet.”

The No. 75 overall prospect in Rivals‘ 2015 rankings, Sharma had a really good spring on the adidas Gauntlet with Mass Rivals and is looking to make a fall decision.

After a strong July, Donovan Mitchell down to five

One of the best players during the July live evaluation period was point guard Donovan Mitchell. The 6-foot-2 Mitchell showed off tremendous athleticism and skill from the point guard position during the month and it led to offers from all over the country.

But now, Mitchell is focused on five schools as he took to Twitter to announce his list:

All five of Mitchell’s finalists were all over him during July and Villanova already received an unofficial visit from the Brewster Academy product over the weekend.

Currently checking in at No. 101 in Rivals‘ 2015 rankings, Mitchell is due for a push up the rankings thanks to a lack of really good guard prospects and his great play during July.

Syracuse’s Tyus Battle to test NBA draft waters

Abbie Parr/Getty Images
1 Comment

Syracuse announced on Friday afternoon that sophomore guard Tyus Battle will be declaring for the NBA draft without signing with an agent, giving him until the NCAA’s May 30th deadline to withdraw from contention and return to school.

Battle averaged 19.2 points as a sophomore for the Orange, who made a surprising run to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament.

He is a projected late-first round or early-second round pick given his size, shooting ability and skill with the ball in his hands.

Losing Battle would be a massive blow to a Syracuse team that is already going to be without Matthew Moyer, who transferred out of the program, and Dareus Bazley, who is heading to the G League instead of enrolling in college.

Maryland’s Kevin Huerter declares for NBA draft, won’t hire agent

Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
1 Comment

Maryland wing Kevin Huerter announced on Friday afternoon that he will be declaring for the NBA draft without hiring an agent, giving him the option of returning to school by May 30th.

“This will be a great experience for Kevin to get honest feedback from NBA teams and executives,” said head coach Mark Turgeon. “Taking advantage of this opportunity will allow Kevin and his family to make an informed decision about his future.”

Huerter is a 6-foot-7 wing known for his ability to shoot from the perimeter. He averaged 14.8 points and shot 42 percent from three as a sophomore.

He is also the third player from Maryland to declare for the 2018 NBA Draft. Justin Jackson, a borderline first round pick who missed time last season with a shoulder injury, has signed with an agent while Bruno Fernando is testing the waters. Maryland, who has an excellent recruiting class coming in, will be a preseason top 20 team if Huerter and Fernando both return to school.

Huerter is a borderline first round pick.

Michigan’s Charles Matthews to test NBA draft waters

Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Michigan guard Charles Matthews announced on Friday that he will be declaring for the NBA draft, but that he does not intend to sign with an agent, meaning he has until May 30th to withdraw from the draft and return to school.

“After careful consideration with my parents and coaching staff, I am excited to announce that I will be declaring for the 2018 NBA Draft without hiring an agent,” said Matthews. “I give thanks to the Lord for this amazing opportunity, as well as the entire University of Michigan for their support. Go Blue!”

Matthews, a redshirt sophomore that averaged 13.0 points and 5.5 boards for the national runners-up, was a four-star prospect coming out of Chicago and spent his freshman season at Kentucky.

Matthews is a likely second round pick with the potential to climb into the first round should he prove to be a more consistent three-point shooter. He shot just 31.8 percent from beyond the arc this past season.

Virginia’s Hunter to return to school for sophomore season

Eric Espada/Getty Images
Leave a comment

De’Andre Hunter announced on Friday afternoon that he will not be entering his name into the NBA draft and will return to Virginia for his redshirt sophomore season, a decision that will have as much of an impact on the 2018-19 college basketball season as any that is made this spring.

Hunter, now a potential top ten pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, was one of the breakout stars of the 2017-18 season. A 6-foot-7 combo-forward with a 7-foot-1 wingspan, Hunter averaged 9.2 points and 3.5 boards while shooting 38.2 percent from three in just under 20 minutes a night for a Virginia team whose pace severely limits the kind of numbers a player like him can put up.

Throw in his ability to defend on the perimeter and in the paint, and Hunter is precisely the kind of player that NBA teams are looking to land as basketball becomes more and more built on positional versatility and the ability to space the floor.

And it’s that versatility that will make Hunter so important for the Cavaliers next season.

Let’s go beyond the simple fact that he is going to be the only guy on the Virginia roster that can create his own shot against length and athleticism and that there is a chance that he could end up being an all-american next season if things play out the right way. What makes Hunter so important to Virginia his that his defensive versatility is what allows Virginia to matchup with teams that want to try and play small-ball against them.

That’s precisely what UMBC did in the first round of the NCAA tournament, a game that Hunter missed with a broken wrist. We all know how that played out, and I’m not even dumb enough to pin all the blame of a 20-point loss to a No. 16 seed on a guy that played less than 20 minutes a night.

Virginia choked once they realized that there was a chance this could happen, but I would argue that a major reason they couldn’t ever truly assert their dominance was because they were unable to matchup with UMBC’s four-guard lineup without Hunter.

With Hunter back, Virginia is the No. 6 team in the NBC Sports Preseason Top 25. If he had declared for the draft and signed with an agent, I’m not sure I would have had the Wahoos in the top 20.

He takes Tony Bennett’s club from simply being good to once against being a contender for the ACC regular season title.

Vanderbilt the sixth Kentucky player declares for the NBA draft

Michael Reaves/Getty Images
1 Comment

Jarred Vanderbilt is now the sixth Kentucky Wildcat to declare for the NBA draft this spring, joining P.J. Washington and Wenyen Gabriel in testing the waters without signing with an agent.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Kevin Knox and Hamidou Diallo have all declared for the draft and signed with an agent.

Vanderbilt announced his decision on Friday afternoon.

“This season wasn’t easy for me,” Vanderbilt said. “At the end of the day, my goal has always been to make it to the NBA.”

“I know I have more to my game to show, but now I’ve got to figure out if the time is right for me to do it at the next level or if I would be better to return to school.”

Vanderbilt missed the first 17 games of his freshman season with a left foot injury, a foot that he had injured twice before during his high school career. He then missed all four of Kentucky’s postseason games with a left ankle injury, and there is a chance that he could end up needing surgery to correct this issue this offseason.

All told, the 6-foot-9 Vanderbilt played in 14 games as a freshman, averaging 5.9 points and 7.9 boards in just 17 minutes a night. But issues with his ability to shoot from the perimeter and a lower left leg that has proven to be extremely problematic, there is a good chance that Vanderbilt would go undrafted should he decide to turn pro.