July Live Period Preview: The key storylines heading into Week Two

source: Getty Images
Harry Giles (Getty Images)

Wednesday at 5:00 p.m. marks the beginning of the second live period in the month of July, meaning that coaches can be on the road evaluating the player that they are or plan to recruit. 

Here are five storylines to follow over the next five days:

1. Does Josh Jackson put up a big performance to stay with Jayson Tatum and Harry Giles during Under Armour’s Finals?: Jackson spent the first live period doing … well, comparatively, not all that much. He played one game at the Under Armour All-American Camp, and he played well enough, doing the things we’ve become accustomed to seeing him do. Meanwhile, Tatum led his St. Louis Eagles team to the finals of Peach Jam, committing to Duke in the process, while Giles strung together a series of performances that had recruitniks the country over questioning why they ever had anyone other than the North Carolina at No. 1 in the class. On Sunday, they went head-to-head in a thriller on ESPNU in the Peach Jam semifinals. They’re ‘buzzing’.

Jackson this week will have a chance to make a similar statement at the UAA Finals. Can he keep pace with Tatum and Giles, or will the consensus top three turn into a consensus top two?

2. Can elite 2017 players like Michael Porter Jr. and Wendell Carter continue to close the gap on DeAndre Ayton?: Other than Giles’ return to health, the biggest talking point from the first July live period was the way that Thon Maker outplayed Ayton in their matchup and the UA All-American Camp. Maker was completely dominant. Ayton? He looked like he wasn’t quite healthy. How will the No. 1 player in the Class of 2017, a kid many believe is the best basketball prospect at any level, bounce back from that kind of week? And will continued impressive performances from Porter and Carter make Ayton less likely to finish atop the 2017 rankings?

3. After landing Jayson Tatum, who becomes the recruiting focus for Duke, and how does it affect the rest of elite recruiting?: The consensus is that, after landing a commitment from Tatum, the next player that Duke is going to earn a commitment from is Giles. At the very least, we know that Giles is going to be one of the guys that Duke is targeting this weekend on the recruiting trail. Will anyone else try to work their way back into Giles’ recruitment? And who else is Duke going to go after? For example, will they prioritize Frank Jackson or Dennis Smith Jr.? For that matter, who will Kentucky target for their starting point guard spot in 2016-17? And how will all of this change things at the highest level of recruiting in 2016?

4. How will the guards at adidas All-America Camp (Dennis Smith Jr., Kobi Simmons, Frank Jackson, Rawle Alkins) play against each other?: The adidas event in Long Island is loaded this week, particularly when it comes to the guards. Smith, Simmons and Jackson are all top ten or close to top ten players. Alkins may be top 20, but he’s being pursued by some of the biggest and best programs in college basketball. De’Aaron Fox did a tremendous job of staking his claim as the best lead guard in the Class of 2016, but Smith, Simmons and Jackson will all be coming for that crown this week. Who is left standing come Monday morning?

5. Does Markelle Fultz continue his rise after offers from Kentucky and North Carolina?: Fultz’s story is one of the most incredible in the Class of 2016. A year ago, he was a JV player at DeMatha HS, a powerhouse in the D.C. region but JV is JV. Now? He’s a top 20 recruit in the country and a kid that has offers to play at blue blood programs. Where does he go from here?