James Wiseman, Jon Lopez/Nike

July Live Period: Five storylines to follow this month

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Wiseman’s recruitment is shaping up to be one of the most interesting battles in recent memory. Wiseman was identified long ago as one of, if not the top prospect in the Class of 2019, and as you might expect, the big boys came swooping in. The Nashville native was long considered a Kentucky lean, but thanks to the way that the coaching carousel shook out this past spring, another suitor has emerged: Memphis.

You see, Wiseman left Nashville to move to Memphis, where he played for Penny Hardaway at East High School and for Team Penny, a Nike-sponsored grassroots program that played on the EYBL circuit. Penny, as we all know by now, replaced Tubby Smith as the head coach for the Memphis Tigers. His relationships with the players that he has coached and mentored in the high school ranks is impressive — he had a couple of players in the Class of 2018 to get out of their letters of intent and come to Memphis — and it’s impossible not to connect those dots.

So let’s forget about the fact that Wiseman will be competing with the likes of Vernon Carey and Cole Anthony for the title of top player in the Class of 2019.

A recruiting battle is shaping up between Memphis legend Penny Hardaway and former Memphis head coach John Calipari. Buckle up. (RD)


Although the Class of 2019 seems to be dominated at the top by big men and jumbo wings, point guard Cole Anthony will do his best to stake his claim as the No. 1 overall prospect in the class.

The son of former UNLV star and NBA veteran Greg Anthony, the 6-foot-2 Cole was a dominant player this spring and summer. Looking like the best player in the Nike EYBL during the spring months, Anthony played more like a true point guard during June with the USA Basketball U18 team — helping the team to a gold medal while capturing all-tournament honors.

A naturally gifted scorer who is trying to get better at setting up teammates, it’ll be intriguing to see how much Anthony has to be a go-to guy during the month of July. If Anthony can mix in the high-level scoring acumen with solid point-guard play, then he might wind up being the best player in the class. (SP)

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UCLA is a blueblood, arguably college basketball’s most storied program, the home of John Wooden and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bill Walton. They’ve been to 18 Final Fours and 13 national title games while winning 11 national titles. Even with some of the issues that UCLA has had winning games in recent seasons, they were still able to bring in the best of the best in Southern California.

But the tide is turning.

USC, even with the cloud left by the FBI investigation into corruption in college basketball, is dominating the Southern California recruiting market. They’ve landed two five-stars in the Class of 2019, one of whom is former Big Baller Onyeka Okongwu and the other — Isaiah Mobley — is the older brother of Evan Mobley, the No. 2 player in the Class of 2020, and the son of current USC assistant coach Eric Mobley. The four members of their 2019 class are all local players, and David Grace — who created the pipeline that sent local kids to UCLA — is now at Cal.

As it stands, Andy Enfield and USC are the face of basketball in California. (RD)


This has been a trend for a couple of years now. Duke’s Marvin Bagley III famously did it after playing at Peach Jam in the summer of 2017. Kentucky’s Ashton Hagans did it this year. They are just two of dozens of players that have made the move in recents seasons, the goal being to get to college — then the NBA, then NBA free agency — a year earlier. It’s going to happen with kids in the Class of 2019 and 2020. Which kids will it be and where will they end up? (RD)


Duke is coming off of a 2018 recruiting haul that features arguably the top three overall prospects and four players in the national top ten. No matter what Duke does with this class, the Blue Devils and head coach Mike Kryzewski are going to have a tough time living up to that lofty Class of 2018 haul.

Things could still wind up being great for Duke with the Class of 2019, but the group hasn’t started to take form yet. The Blue Devils find themselves in the mix with most of the top-ten national prospects — including names like Vernon Carey Jr, Cole Anthony, Matthew Hurt and Isaiah Stewart. But none of those guys feel like a sure thing, as Duke continues to wage war with Kentucky (among others) over the latest one-and-done prospects.

With Coach K getting older, the program has also started searching for more long-term program guys like Wendell Moore and Joe Girard who could be in Durham for a few years of added stability. With a potentially large recruiting class, it will be fascinating to see how things play out for Duke this July (SP)

USC adds to top 2019 class with four-star recruit Kyle Sturdivant

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Andy Enfield’s 2019 recruiting haul already includes two five-star, top-20 recruits along with a pair of additional four-star prospects in the top-100. It’s good enough, right now, for USC to own the best class in the country.

And on Thursday, the Trojans added to it.

Kyle Sturdivant, a top-100 recruit out of Georgia, has committed to the Trojans.

The 6-foot-3 point guard previously committed to his home-state Bulldogs and new coach Tom Crean, but backed off that pledge last month. He also had offers from Cal, Clemson, Auburn and Florida, among others.

Sturdivant put up 16.2 points, 5 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game last season while playing alongside top-five recruit Vernon Carey on Team Takeover Florida.

His commitment gives Enfield a point guard in an already loaded class. The Trojans previously received commitments from five-stars Isaiah Mobley and Onyeka Okongwu and four-stars Max Agbonkpolo and Drake London, giving them the consensus top class in the country this fall.

The Trojans’ continued success keeps the trend alive of schools who were caught up in the FBI corruption investigation simply shaking it off and landing more top talent.

The kings stay the kings.

Top junior college transfer Chris Duarte commits to Oregon

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Dana Altman and Oregon have reached into the junior college ranks to pick up their first commitment in the 2019 class.

Chris Duarte, a top juco from Northwest Florida State, committed to the Ducks on Thursday, it was announced.

“NWF State helped me grow as a player on and off the court,” Duarte said in a statement. “I want to thank all of the staff who has helped me become the player I need to be to play at a Division I program like Oregon. I’m very excited and thankful for this opportunity.”

In his freshman season at Northwest Florida State, the 6-foot-6 former 2017 Western Kentucky signee averaged 12.1 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2 steals per game en route to all-conference honors as the Raiders won a state championship and advanced to the Elite Eight of the NJCAA tournament.

“Chris is an outstanding student-athlete who represents Northwest Florida State well,” Northwest Florida State coach Steve DeMeo said in a statement. “The University of Oregon is the best decision for him and I am excited to see what his future holds as he finishes up his career as a Raider and heads to Eugene to play at the next level.”

Duarte will play for the Raiders this upcoming season and then will have two years of eligibility remaining with the Ducks. He is considered one of, if not the, top junior college player in the country.

Oklahoma lands commitment from four-star prospect Jalen Hill

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Lon Kruger continues to assemble a monster 2019 recruiting class.

The Sooners received a commitment Thursday from Jalen Hill, a four-star wing from Las Vegas, to bolster a group that already is among the best in the country.

Hill chose the Sooners after visiting earlier this month. He had also visited TCU and had trips scheduled to DePaul and St. John’s. He also sported offers from Oregon, Arizona and Illinois. The 6-foot-7 small forward announced his decision at his school Thursday.

“I thought that it was just the best fit for me,” Hill told Rivals. “The the players over there are great and I just loved the coaching staff, really. They let you rock over there and let you be you.”In terms of everything else, they didn’t have a lot of wings coming back at that position. They compared me to Buddy Hield a little and said they might use me as a shooting guard and as a small forward.”

Hill averaged 17.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.9 assists in the EYBL with the Las Vegas Prospects. He’s the latest edition to Oklahoma’s 2019 class that already includes two top-100 prospects. De’Vion Harmon, a top-50 point guard from Texas, committed to Kruger and Co. last November while Victor Iwuaker, a top-100 forward also from Texas, pledged earlier this month. It’s a consensus top-10 class.

It’s hard to call Kruger underrated given the success he’s had in the college ranks and his stint in the NBA, but even with that recent Final Four run and the Trae Young Experience last year, the Oklahoma coach rarely seems to get his due as one of the top coaches in the country. He keeps winning – both on the floor and the recruiting trail.

Gonzaga lands commitment from top Lithuanian prospect

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Gonzaga has landed their third commitment in the Class of 2019, as Martynas Arlauskas, a 6-foot-6 Lithuanian wing, announced that he will be heading to Spokane for college instead of signing a professional contract.

Arlauskas ranks 42nd in the Class of 2019, according to 247 Sports, although he does not show up in their composite rankings; not even recruiting outlet ranks foreign prospects in their top 100. He spent last season played with the second division team from BC Zalgiris, one of the biggest clubs in Lithuania. He averaged 5.2 points as an 18-year old.

The last player Gonzaga recruited from Lithuania was Domantas Sabonis.

A skilled perimeter that is at his best playing on the wing, Arlauskas is the third member of Gonzaga’s 2019 recruiting class, joining Anton Watson, a top 50 prospect from Gonzaga Prep in Spokane, and three-star guard Brock Ravet.

Oklahoma lands four-star 2019 forward Victor Iwuakor

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Oklahoma landed its second four-star prospect in the Class of 2019 on Wednesday as forward Victor Iwuakor pledged to the Sooners.

The 6-foot-7 Iwuakor is a long-armed, undersized forward who has the strength and motor to still compete against other players on the interior. Rivals rates Iwuakor as the No. 116 overall prospect in the Class of 2019, as he joins top-40 point guard De’Vion Harmon in Oklahoma’s group.

Iwuakor is a great start to rebuilding Oklahoma’s frontcourt as they have a lot of scholarships to work with in this class. Now with two four-star prospects in the fold, head coach Lon Kruger is continuing to recruit at a high level — which is also a good sign that they’re capitalizing on Trae Young’s successful season becoming a top-five pick. Oklahoma was in a recruiting battle with Baylor and Texas Tech for Iwuakor, as all three schools received official visits, but the Sooners were able to pull the promising forward out of Texas.