There's a new blue blood program in the race to land Tre Mann.
Tuesday night — on election day, no less — Rivals.com analyst Corey Evans posted a Tweet that indicated that North Carolina had lined up an official visit with the Class of 2019 point guard from The Villages, Fla.
Big deal, right? It’s not as if UNC has trouble getting in with the top players in each class, and, at No. 30 in the 2019 class, it certainly makes sense that Mann would consider the Tar Heels.
The reason this is a big deal, however, is that earlier this summer Mann named his list of finalists and UNC was not on it. Kansas, Florida and Tennessee were.
In mid-July, however, Mann officially reopened his recruitment and quickly proceeded to pick up a bunch of new offers. Iowa State, North Carolina State and Auburn were among the new schools that offered Mann a scholarship shortly after he opened things back up.
At the time, the Tar Heels had not yet gotten involved with Mann, but now that they have, it’s clear that the Mann camp is intrigued by what UNC and coach Roy Williams have to offer.
According to his Twitter account, Mann officially received an offer from UNC on July 30 after a strong showing at the Fab 48, one of the final AAU events of the summer in Las Vegas. That came on the heels of Mann’s stellar performance at the famed Peach Jam event, where some analysts named him one of the top performers regardless of position.
It’s hard to know exactly what this will mean in the big picture, but Mann, who was offered by KU on April 30 and had previously planned to make an announcement on July 30, has said that he is currently “wide open” with his recruitment.
The news of this new official visit to North Carolina does not mean that UNC is Mann’s new leader or that he’ll sign with Carolina and turn his back on those other three schools who have been recruiting him for months, even years in some cases.
But it does mean that the race to land the 6-foot-4, 170-pound point guard just got a little tougher for all three programs and the rest of the country.
Mann Tweeted on Tuesday that he plans to visit UNC on Sept. 14. According to reports, he already has made official visits to Tennessee and Florida.
Whether KU gets one of Mann’s two other official visits remains to be seen and may not be all that important.
“The school is just extra for me like when I go see the campus and stuff like that,” Mann recently told Grant Ramey of Tennessee’s 247 Sports site. “It’s really just the relationships.”
Regardless of where things go from here, KU’s interest in Mann makes perfect sense. His size and length make him one of those classic combo-guard play-makers that KU coach Bill Self has had a ton of success with at the point guard position throughout his KU career.
As of today, Kansas has one oral commitment in the Class of 2019 and that is from Chicago point guard Markese Jacobs, who committed to KU after an unofficial visit to Late Night in 2016.
With the July evaluation period now behind us, several Class of 2019 prospects have started to get serious about their recruitment.
And that means, first and foremost, the making and trimming of lists, with official visit dates and, ultimately, decisions to follow in the months ahead.
Because just about every top prospect, year after year, at least kicks the tires on considering Kansas — a blue blood program led by a Hall of Fame coach that is seemingly always in the national title picture — these trimmed-down lists are more and more important in understanding the current landscape of KU’s recruiting.
With uncertainty lingering regarding how many players KU will want/need to add following the 2018-19 season, recruiting the next class can be a little tougher than some of the classes of the past. But KU coach Bill Self and his coaching staff have been around the block more than a few times and know exactly what they want and exactly how to handle the fluid realities of a recruiting year like 2019.
This much we know: Top 10 prospects Jeremiah Robinson-Earl and Matthew Hurt are at the top of KU’s wish list. Both are big time players who figure to make a major impact wherever they go and landing both — there’s no doubt they could play together — would go a long way toward elevating KU’s 2019 recruiting class into the top three or four in the country, perhaps higher.
Beyond that, KU already has a commitment from Class of 2019 point guard Markese Jacobs (No. 92 per Rivals.com) and also is in the mix for Florida point guard Tre Mann (No. 30), who has KU in his final three along with Florida and Tennessee.
After that quartet is a long list of elite prospects who Kansas is very interested in tracking throughout the recruiting process, which figures to really heat up this fall as these guys begin to take official visits and the November signing period draws nearer.
So who else is on the radar for the Jayhawks? Well, a couple of prospects just trimmed their lists and kept Kansas in the mix.
Samuell Williamson, a 6-foot-7, four-star shooting guard from Rockwall, Texas, sliced his list of schools to 10, with KU joining Baylor, Louisville, Michigan, Ohio State, Oklahoma, SMU, Texas, Texas A&M and Texas Tech.
Rivals recruiting analyst Eric Bossi broke down Williamson’s game and recruitment with the following: “A polished offensive player with big upside due to his size and skill, Williamson hasn't yet set any official visits. Throughout the summer, Kansas and Texas have been generating the most behind the scenes talk while Louisville and Ohio State could also be sleepers if Williamson does elect to leave his home state.”
After watching Williamson out in Las Vegas, Bossi called him, “a mid-range killer (who) has deep range and is a tall wing who is going to be a deadly post-up scorer when it is all said and done.”
In other list-trimming news, four-star center Oscar Tshiebwe — 6-foot-9, 230 pounds from Hermitage, Pa. — knocked his group of finalists down to eight, with Kansas joining Virginia, Kentucky, Baylor, West Virginia, Ole Miss, Georgetown and Illinois.
Known at this stage in his career as a dominant rim protector and workaholic rebounder, Tshiebwe continues to work on his offensive game, which has potential, but has drawn the most eyes for his size and style on the defensive end.
Rivals.com recruiting analyst Corey Evans called Tshiebwe “a man among boys” at a recent AAU event in California, and Evans calls West Virginia and KU “the two programs to beat,” adding that Kentucky’s staff has started to turn up its efforts with Tshiebwe.
“He’s hands down the best rebounder in high school basketball," Evans said of Tshiebwe in a recent interview with the Lexington Herald-Leader. "I mean, that’s bar none. He’s the best rebounder out there."
Stay tuned for much more in the coming weeks as more players trim their lists and start lining up their official visits.
Let the speculation begin.
At 3 p.m. Monday afternoon on everyone’s favorite social media recruiting site, Class of 2019 forward D.J. Jeffries Tweeted that he was de-committing from Kentucky and planned to reopen his recruitment.
“After careful consideration prayer and countless hours of consulting with my family I decided to reopen recruitment,” Jeffries wrote. “It was a hard decision but I am confident that taking my time to choose the right school for me, to better myself educationally and athletically, is the right choice.”
Jeffries, who committed to John Calipari’s Kentucky program in mid-March, is the cousin of KU forwards Dedric and K.J. Lawson.
Some speculated at the time of the Lawson Brothers’ announcement that they were transferring to Kansas that the move could open the door for Jeffries and the two younger Lawson brothers, Chandler and Jonathan, to follow them to KU.
Whether that’s what’s happening here remains to be seen, but it’s worth pointing out that Jeffries once played for Team Penny, as in current Memphis coach Penny Hardaway, on Nike’s EYBL circuit, and it’s just as likely that Jeffries’ decision could be clearing the way for a move to Memphis as it is a move for Kansas.
Jeffries currently plays for Bluff City, which features 7-foot center James Wiseman, a Memphis native ranked No. 3 by Rivals in the Class of 2019, who many believe is on his way to a recruiting showdown between Kentucky and Memphis.
Wrote Rivals analyst Eric Bossi of Jeffries following the Peach Jam earlier this summer: “He's playing harder than ever, has improved by leaps and bounds as a jump shooter and most importantly he's finding ways to make winning plays.”
Listed by Rivals.com as a 6-foot-7, 200-pound power forward, Jeffries currently is ranked No. 46 nationally on the Rivals 150. But his solid spring/summer AAU session may have him on the rise.
According to the Rivals data base, KU was one of 16 programs to offer Jeffries a scholarship before he chose Kentucky.
Now, with his recruitment back open, it’ll be interesting to see if that list grows or if Jeffries picks from the 15 other programs who were on him the first time around.
Out in Southern California last weekend for yet another AAU event, Class of 2019 power forward Chandler Lawson, the younger brother of current Kansas players Dedric and K.J. Lawson, took a break from the action to discuss his game and his recruitment with a handful of reporters.
KUsports.com recruiting insider Matt Scott got ahold of that interview and received a little more insight into where the 6-foot-8, 200-pound prospect’s mind is heading into the final week of July.
“My recruiting’s going very well,” Lawson told a group of reporters, noting that Kansas, Ole Miss, Georgia Tech, Memphis, Florida, Illinois and “a lot of SEC schools” had made the most contact with him thus far.
Lawson said his interactions with the KU coaching staff thus far had been as much about his siblings as his own status.
“They’re just telling me a lot about my brothers and to just keep on playing hard and keep on working hard,” said Lawson, who not only looks a lot like the two Jayhawks, but also sounds nearly identical to Dedric Lawson during interviews.
The younger Lawson, who labeled his versatility as his biggest strength, said he had been working on his guard skills and his back-to-the-basket game a lot this summer.
As for his plans for how the rest of his recruitment would play out, the four-star prospect, ranked No. 86 in the Class of 2019 by Rivals.com, admitted to being pretty go with the flow about the whole thing.
“I don’t really know,” he said when asked if he had a time frame or process in mind. “I’m just going to pick.”
Regardless of when or how that happens, it’s clear that Kansas will have a shot to be in the mix.
“Coach (Bill) Self, he’s a Hall of Famer. I like him. He’s hard-nosed,” Lawson said. “It’s a big thing having my (brothers) there, because they can teach me a lot about the game and tell me how college is going to be when I get there."
Chandler Lawson, recently announced on Twitter that he will play his senior season at famed Oak Hill Academy, the same school that produced recent KU big men Billy Preston and David McCormack.
The most noteworthy aspect of the move to Oak Hill, however, is why it happened in the first place.
After playing for former NBA and Memphis State star Penny Hardaway for three seasons at Memphis’ East High — yes, Memphis was actually known as Memphis State when Penny played there — Hardaway left the school to become the new head coach at Memphis.
While that move clearly figures to make Memphis an attractive option for Chandler when it comes time to pick a college, the move out of Memphis will give him a year to experience life out of his hometown.
If he likes it and wants to join a blue blood program where he could possibly play with one or both of his older brothers, KU would certainly seem like the perfect option.
If he misses it and realizes that home is where the heart is, Hardaway could be in position to land Chandler as his big splash recruit — Chandler is in the Top 100 right now and could easily continue to rise — and begin to repair some of the wounds that inspired talented players like Dedric and K.J. to leave Memphis to begin with.
The belief around the city of Memphis is that Hardaway is exactly what the program needs to get back on track. Adding a player like Chandler — which could only help in Memphis’ pursuit of the youngest Lawson brother, Jonathan, a Class of 2021 forward — no doubt would generate some serious buzz within the Memphis basketball scene.
It’s far too early to tell if this is a Memphis vs. Kansas, Hardaway vs. Self type of recruiting battle. But if it is, each coach and program has its own built-in advantages.
When it comes to following the Kansas men’s basketball program, it’s hard to argue that there is anything more exciting than November through March, that five-month stretch each year when KU makes its latest run at a national title and has a little fun in the Big 12 Conference along the way.
But just because the games end in early April and the on-the-court action remains dormant for the next several months does not mean the action stops.
For years here at The Journal-World and KUsports.com, we’ve done our absolute best to keep you in tune with what’s happening with the program year round. New players arrive, old players move on to new adventures — in and out of basketball — and alums, former coaches and even current and former rivals all bring interesting stories to the offseason.
But today, thanks to the newest addition to our KUsports.com team, the offseason figures to be more exciting and action-packed than ever for our readers.
I’d like to be the first to introduce you all to Matt Scott, our new, in-house recruiting insider here at KUsports.com. Matt, a KU alum, has been covering the KU program for 10 years, with a specific eye on recruiting the entire time.
His connections have allowed him to gain some of the best access and bring some of the most interesting stories in recruiting to the various sites he has worked for throughout the years.
It began with a site Matt started, known as TheShiver.com, which went through various associations with ESPN, 247 Sports and others, and now we’re bringing that coverage to KUsports.com.
Matt’s sole focus with our site, for as long as we can stand to put up with him, will be to follow KU men’s basketball recruiting 365 days a year. He will do this through interviews, attendance at high school and AAU games and tournaments, phone calls and texts and, of course, lots and lots of video and Twitter.
Despite his know-it-all persona, Matt actually has been known to be wrong from time to time. But he always brings you his honest thoughts and the best/most accurate information he can gather on what’s happening with the players KU is targeting and fans are following.
During his time with the 247 Sports network, Matt hit on better than 90 percent of his KU Crystal Ball predictions. He also delivered breaking recruiting news and up-to-date information on visits, reactions and the plans held by some of the biggest names of KU’s most recent past — Andrew Wiggins, Josh Jackson, Josh Selby and dozens more.
There was that one time, fairly recently, when Matt was schooled by a recruiting novice in the Silvio De Sousa recruitment (wink, wink), but after we broke that story here on KUsports.com, Matt was the first person I heard from telling me congrats on the scoop. Now that we’re teaming up, it should be fun to push each other and battle for bragging rights in the recruiting game along the way.
Here’s what you need to know about Matt’s coverage as things stand today: It’s going to be provided in addition to what we already do. I’ll still be doing my thing with regard to following KU basketball recruiting, tracking down players when I can, analyzing movement and breaking down what KU coach Bill Self and his staff might be thinking or doing with a particular player or a complete recruiting class. But Matt will be the one bringing you the play-by-play, as it happens, along the way.
We’re confident that his addition to our staff will take our KU basketball coverage to another level and look forward to him getting started, full-speed-ahead, over the next couple of weeks with back-to-back Hardwood Classic recruiting sessions right here in Lawrence the next couple of weekends out at Sports Pavilion Lawrence along with the Jayhawk Summer Finale in Overland Park in late July.
So please join me in welcoming Matt to the KUsports.com community. And if you’re not already following him on Twitter be sure to check him out at @KUTheShiver.
Also be on the lookout for his regular blog entries — “KU Basketball Recruiting Scoop with Matt Scott” — videos, podcasts and prospect updates on our web site, mobile site and our KU Sports app.
Kansas recruiting targets N’Faly Dante and Malik Hall are headed back to Lawrence. And this time, they’re bringing a few friends.
Starting today, and running through Sunday, the first session of the annual Hardwood Classic AAU tournament will tip off at Sports Pavilion Lawrence. Session 2 is set for July 26-29 in the same spot.
The weekend extravaganza, which will also feature 3-point and slam dunk contests on Friday night, will mark the encore performance for the Sunrise Christian Academy teammates, Dante and Hall, who played in the showcase game of the KC Classic at this very same venue earlier this spring.
Attracting more than 250 teams that will play in six different venues around the city, the event once again figures to be one of the hottest recruiting spots in the country during the next two weekends.
Last year, the event attracted some of the biggest names in college coaching, with Michigan State’s Tom Izzo, Virginia’s Tony Bennett, Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim, Wichita State’s Gregg Marshall, new Georgetown coach Patrick Ewing, Oregon coach Dana Altman, UCLA coach Steve Alford, Texas coach Shaka Smart and, of course, Kansas coach Bill Self and his staff all taking in the action at various times.
Those were just some of the bigger names of the more than 350 college coaches — from all levels — who made the trip to town to check in on some of the top talent in the next few classes.
This year’s event, which will feature players and teams from 15 states, including five teams from Nike’s EYBL circuit, will be headlined by some of the best players and biggest names in the 2019 and 2020 classes, led by Dante and Hall.
As for the marquee teams at the event, two of the Final Four from last week’s Peach Jam event down south will be in Lawrence, with City Rocks, out of New York, and Dante and Hall’s MoKan squad looking to take this weekend’s title.
Here’s a quick look at some of the top prospects who will be in Lawrence this weekend, hoping to help their teams bring home some hardware and impress some college recruiters in the process.
• Malik Hall, MoKan Elite
6-foot-8 Small Forward
Rivals rank: No. 49 (2019)
Hall plays at Sunrise Academy in Wichita, and currently is ranked No. 49 overall in the 2019 class by Rivals.com. Hall enjoyed a strong Peach Jam showing, and currently has 23 offers, including KU, Villanova, Missouri, Oklahoma, Oregon, Oklahoma State, Purdue and others.
• N’Faly Dante, MoKan Elite
Rivals rank: No. 5 (2020)
The powerful Dante plays with Hall at Sunrise Academy and is known as a force defensively with his shot blocking and rebounding. Dante already has received offers from Kansas and Kentucky among others.
• Isaiah Stewart, City Rocks (NY)
Rivals rank: No. 6 (2019)
The five-star recruit at one time carried 41 scholarship offers from some of the best of the best, including Kansas, Duke, Villanova, Michigan State and Syracuse.
• Joseph Girard III, City Rocks (NY)
6-foot-2 Shooting Guard
Rivals rank: No. 127 (2019)
A highly recruited quarterback, as well, Girard garnered national headlines after averaging over 50 points per game this past high school season. He also already has broken Lance Stephenson’s New York state record for career scoring. The dangerous shooter and 3-star prospect won the Hardwood Classic 3-point contest last year, and holds offers from Duke, Syracuse, Michigan and many others.
• Scotty Pippen Jr. and Kenyon Martin Jr., Oakland Soldiers (CA)
Martin: 6-foot-6 Power Forward ranked by Rivals at No. 141 (2019)
Pippen: 6-foot Point Guard not currently ranked in Rivals150 (2019)
The teammates at Sierra Canyon also team up for the Oakland Soldiers. Their former NBA dads draw plenty of attention and Pippen and Martin represented the names well as both hold multiple Division I offers.
Admission to the Hardwood Classic is $10 for a daily pass for adults and $5 for kids 7 and under. Kids 5 and under get in free.
The event starts at 2 p.m. today, and runs through Sunday afternoon, with the showcase games taking place at Sports Pavilion Lawrence and younger age groups playing games at Free State High, Lawrence High, Bishop Seabury Academy, West Middle School and Langston Hughes Elementary.
According to multiple reports from a number of national recruiting analysts, the Kansas men’s basketball program has offered a scholarship to four-star Class of 2019 power forward Kai Jones.
Jones is currently ranked No. 123 in the 2019 class by Rivals.com, but appears to be well on his way to climbing in those rankings.
At 6-foot-10, 200 pounds, with wild athleticism and good length, Jones is the type of player that many analysts expect to continue improving at a rapid rate.
Already with offers from Arizona, Georgetown, Illinois, Louisville and others, Jones, who plays AAU ball for Team Breakdown on the Under Armour circuit, attends famed Brewster Academy in New Hampshire. He originally hails from the Bahamas and played his junior season at Orlando Christian Prep in Florida.
Brewster, as you may know, certainly has been good to the Jayhawks throughout the years, sending the likes of Thomas Robinson, Naadir Tharpe and Devonte’ Graham to KU from the New Hampshire prep school.
Where Jones factors into KU’s plans for the 2019 class is anybody’s guess, but he certainly fits the mold as one of those long, athletic, versatile players who could find a role in KU coach Bill Self’s system in a number of ways.
Five-star forward Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, formerly of Bishop Miege High and now at IMG Academy, is at the top of the Jayhawks’ wish list at the power forward position, and fellow five-star forward Matthew Hurt, who has incredible versatility and can be plugged in at a number of spots, is also high on KU’s list. The two played together last month for Team USA, coached by Self, at the U18 FIBA Americas tournament in Canada. Landing both in the Class of 2019 would be a huge haul for the Jayhawks.
Self and his staff remain in pursuit of several elite guards in the 2019 class — point guards Cole Anthony, Josiah James and Tre Mann the biggest names among them — and also could be looking to add a couple of big men depending on what happens to the roster after the 2018-19 season.
The possibility certainly exists that the Jayhawks could be in the market for as many as three or four big men in the 2019 class, with Udoka Azubuike, Dedric Lawson, Silvio De Sousa and even K.J. Lawson all potentially heading toward exploring their options after the upcoming season.
That, along with the departure of senior Lagerald Vick and potential departure of projected lottery 2019 pick Quentin Grimes, would give KU five or six open scholarships to use in the 2019 class. With one already slated to go to Chicago point guard Markese Jacobs, that leaves Kansas with some serious flexibility in how it could choose to use the remaining four or five scholarships.
As for Jones, he appears to be fairly new to the game, but is said to have great instincts and a terrific work ethic and approach to improving his game.
When it comes to recruiting the Class of 2019, it has long been evident that local prospect turned IMG Academy senior Jeremiah Robinson-Earl is at the tippy top of the Kansas basketball wish list.
But with more uncertainty surrounding who will stay and who will go following the 2018-19 college season, the KU coaching staff continues to recruit the 2019 class with intensity, hoping to add Robinson-Earl and a couple of other elite prospects to go with him.
Kansas already has a commitment from Class of 2019 point guard Markese Jacobs — a Chicago prospect ranked No. 91 by Rivals.com — but could add as many as three or four more players before things are finalized next spring.
With the recently wrapped-up Peach Jam, Adidas Gauntlet and Under Armour Challenge in the rearview mirror and a couple of AAU weekends on the docket for Lawrence on the horizon, let’s jump into a little game of who’s hot and who’s hottest on the college basketball recruiting trail as it pertains to Kansas basketball.
First, a look back.
According to Rivals.com recruiting analyst Corey Evans, it was 5-star, Class of 2019 forward Precious Achiuwa, a 6-foot-9, 215-pound power forward from St. Benedict’s in Newark, N.J., who took home the title of “most impressive” player at last week’s Peach Jam.
Currently ranked No. 8 overall on the Rivals’ Top 150, Evans wrote that Achiuwa cemented his status as a Top 10 player in the class with his play at the UA Challenge. According to Evans, Achiuwa shot 60 percent for the weekend, got to the free-throw line more than 40 times in five games and also showed great body control and the ability to slash as much as he used his size and comfort inside to do damage, as well.
According to Rivals, the Jayhawks have offered Achiuwa, joining a dozen other schools in hard pursuit of the five-star forward to this point. Others who have offered include: UConn, UMass, Minnesota, Mississippi State, Ohio State, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Pitt, Seton Hall, St. John’s, Syracuse and VCU.
Speaking of a player who impressed at the UA Challenge, five-star shooting guard Josh Green, a 6-5, 185-pound wing from IMG Academy, also delivered a solid showing, particularly from the perimeter.
“Green's talent has never been questioned, but his ability to consistently make shots has,” Evans wrote. “Those concerns were put to bed quickly Thursday morning as he made three consecutive perimeter jumpers during a personal 13-point run. Green is the total package on the perimeter as there is not much that he cannot do. Whether you want dunks, dimes, boards or steals, Green can do it all, which makes him one of the best that the 2019 class can offer.”
Green is currently ranked No. 10 in the Rivals 150 in the Class of 2019 and Kansas has offered and continues to pay close attention to his progress.
Five-star point guard Josiah James, of Charleston, S.C., also had a good weekend at the UA Challenge, which was well timed given KU coach Bill Self’s appearance at a couple of his games.
James, a 6-6, 190-pound point guard, plays an unselfish brand of basketball and is long and strong like a handful of KU’s best guards from the past.
According to Evans, James is likely on Self’s radar for one reason.
“Where his greatest value comes to light is on the defensive end,” Evans wrote. “A multi-positional defender to the core, James has the chance to guard up to four spots at the college level. He has the awareness, length, strength and smarts to (be) an immediate all-league defender candidate that remains one of the best in his 2019 class.”
James is ranked No. 11 overall by Rivals.com in the 2019 class, and it's not hard to visualize him in a future KU backcourt as one of two or even three combo guards playing major minutes the way Frank Mason III, Devonte' Graham and Wayne Selden Jr. did in recent years.
Over at the Peach Jam event in North Augusta, S.C., Rivals analyst Eric Bossi offered up insight on some of the most elite players in the 2019 class.
Cole Anthony, a 6-2, 180-pound, five-star point guard from New York, who is the son of former NBA player Greg Anthony and also played for Self on the U18 USA Basketball team last month, continued to establish himself as one of the top point guards in the 2019 class.
Ranked No. 2 overall, Anthony wowed with his burst, speed, athleticism and competitiveness.
“I don't need to remind everybody how good Anthony is,” Bossi wrote. “We all know it and nobody is disputing it. What we all want to know, is who has a legitimate shot at landing him?”
Kansas certainly would like to be in that mix and Self’s time with Anthony and USA Basketball certainly did not hurt. Self played Anthony a ton — the third most minutes of any player on the team at the six-game tourney — and started him in five of the six games Team USA played en route to winning gold.
Anthony, meanwhile, was Team USA’s third-leading scorer at 14.3 points per game and was second on the team with 25 assists, while shooting 50 percent from the floor and getting to the free-throw line 21 times.
“I’ve talked to Bill Self a few times, I love the program,” Anthony told Bossi last weekend. “He’s obviously done a really good job, he’s a Hall of Fame coach. I’m a fan, I’m a fan of his right now.”
So where does Bossi see Anthony’s recruitment headed?
“Kentucky and Duke get thrown around as possible teams to beat,” Bossi wrote. “Oregon, North Carolina, Kansas, Wake Forest, Michigan, Pittsburgh, Georgetown, Louisville and pretty much anybody else that you can think of is also thrown out there. … The best myself or anybody else can do right now is speculate and that's all it is for now because the Anthony group is running a tight ship with no leaks. Don't look for a decision anytime soon either and look for his recruitment to last into the spring of 2019.”
Of Anthony, Bossi added: "During his final run in North Augusta, Anthony was good for 26.2 points, 8.4 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game to back up his status as the most productive player in the class of 2019. The recruiting world can't wait to see who he ends up seriously considering because he'll be a difference-maker wherever he lands."
And then there’s Matthew Hurt, the five-star versatile forward who also played for Self on Team USA, finishing as the team’s fourth-leading scorer, a tick behind Anthony and just ahead of Robinson-Earl on the balanced gold medal team.
Hurt was in New York playing in the Adidas Gauntlet event last weekend and he continued to show the things that have made him one of the hottest targets in the class during the past several months.
He fills up a stat sheet with his ability to score all over the floor and continues to showcase something new just about every time he takes the floor. That’s what has coaches so excited about his potential at the college level, as evident by the lineup of guys who watched him last weekend.
According to Bossi, Self was joined by Coach K and John Calipari to watch Hurt last Sunday and that power trio was flanked by assistants from North Carolina, Indiana, in-state hopeful Minnesota and Memphis.
“Though Hurt has never announced a true list, those seven plus UCLA are likely the most viable competitors for his services at this point,” wrote Bossi, who added that Hurt has not scheduled any official visits and plans to get through July, take a family vacation later this summer and begin plans for visits in September after his family’s trip.
While very few of those players — if any — will be in Lawrence the next couple of weekends for the two-session Hardwood Classic, several other KU targets in the next handful of classes will compete at the event July 19-22 and July 26-29 at Sports Pavilion Lawrence in Rock Chalk Park.
In all, more than 250 teams — including five from the Nike EYBL circuit — will attract coaches from all of the country’s major programs during the next two weekends, making Lawrence as hot a spot as any in the country for college basketball recruiting for the rest of the month.
Busy working toward winning a gold medal with the U18 Men’s National Team at the FIBA Americas in Canada, which gets under way on Sunday, Bishop Miege standout forward Jeremiah Robinson-Earl has continued to keep one eye on his recruitment.
The No. 16-ranked player in the Class of 2019, according to Rivals.com, Robinson-Earl recently told Rivals recruiting analyst Corey Evans that five programs had stood out to him the most throughout his recruitment thus far, adding that he was still open to adding any other programs who show serious interest into the mix.
Those programs, as things stand today, are: Kansas, to no one’s surprise, North Carolina, which seems to be KU’s biggest competitor here, Arizona, UCLA and Virginia.
Robinson-Earl recently talked about all five programs with Evans, breaking down what he liked about each. Here’s a quick look at what he had to say about KU.
“Obviously, it is one of the best schools in the country, right down the road,” he began. “This (USA Basketball) experience has been good, with just seeing what (KU) coach (Bill) Self has been like in action instead of just seeing him being nice just to be nice, but rather out here coaching us to get better.”
Despite his father’s ties to KU — former McDonald’s All-American Lester Earl played at Kansas from 1997-2000 and went toe-to-toe with Kobe Bryant, among others, in the 1996 — and the school’s proximity to his high school and hometown, Robinson-Earl said he had been exploring all of his options throughout the past couple of years of his recruitment and continues to do so today.
“There is no pressure to go there,” he told Evans of KU. “When coaches ask about if KU is where I am going to go, I just tell them that I open to anybody and if you’re willing to recruit me, I am open to you.”
As for North Carolina, which many believe will be KU’s biggest threat to landing Robinson-Earl, the 6-foot-9, 235-pound power forward made it clear in his interview with Evans that receiving interest from a coach like Roy Williams was both flattering and intriguing.
As is fairly standard, Robinson-Earl told Evans that he likely would start taking official visits this Fall and could see himself making a decision in the winter or early in 2019.
As for Evans’ read on Robinson-Earl’s recruitment, his take goes down as good news for the Jayhawks.
“Kansas has been and will continue to be the program to beat,” Evans wrote on Friday, “though Virginia, North Carolina, UCLA and Arizona could have a puncher’s chance as well.”
Officially, Quentin Grimes’ first game under Kansas coach Bill Self is supposed to take place Nov. 6, when the Jayhawks face Michigan State in the annual Champions’ Classic in Indianapolis.
But by the time that game actually rolls around, Grimes may have as many as four or five games as a Self player already under his belt.
That’s thanks to the USA Basketball experience that both Grimes and Self are currently going through in Colorado Springs, in preparation for the FIBA Americas basketball tournament in Canada later this month.
Grimes, a five-star prospect in the Class of 2018 who was ranked No. 8 overall by Rivals.com and signed with KU last November, was one of 33 players who tried out for the U18 Men’s National Team that will be coached by Self in the upcoming FIBA Americas event.
Having made the first cut, Grimes now gets another couple more days to see if he can get a couple more weeks with his college coach.
Grimes was one of 18 U18 hopefuls who survived the first cut, which trimmed the talent pool from 33 to 18. Self and company will have to cut six more players before they leave for Canada on Thursday and it’s not likely that Grimes will be one of them.
“Quentin is a very talented guy,” Self said in a recent interview with the Journal-World. “And the fact that we know we will be depending on him in big ways this year (at KU), I think it is going to be beneficial to him, if he's fortunate enough to make the team, to kind of be in a system that he understands and then he can kind of help with the other three freshmen (back in Lawrence).”
Put a different way, when asked during a conference call if the USA Basketball experience would be good for Grimes, Self said simply: “I don’t know how it can’t be good.”
“I love Quentin and I certainly hope he comes and plays extremely well, but I’m not approaching this as, he has an advantage over other guys because he’s coming to KU,” Self continued. “And he knows that. He’s going into a situation where he’s going to have to play, and I think those are all positives. ... To have the chance to play in a setting that is not an all-star-game-type setting, where you’re playing for something that’s very important to a lot of people, I think that definitely will help him moving forward and certainly get him prepared to compete when he gets (to KU).”
As for the rest of the group Self saw last week — a group that included, and still includes, more than a few KU recruits in the 2019 and 2020 classes — Self said being around all of those athletes was a memorable experience.
“We had 33 guys come here and all 33 competed hard,” Self said per @USABasketball. “We were all so impressed with how much it meant to all of them. But at the end of the day these 18 were the 18 who stood out the most and are certainly very deserving of the opportunity to continue. Now from this, they’ll each get a couple full days in order to show that they could be one of the 12 to make this team the best team it possibly can be moving forward into competition.
“It’s going to be difficult to get down to 12. Sometimes putting a USA team together is a little different than just looking at who can score the most points and who can get the most rebounds. So, it’ll be interesting to see how that plays out. But the 18 that were selected, we thinks give us a great pool of players to give us the best chance to win.”
Here’s a quick look at the 18 players still vying for a roster spot on this year’s U18 team in Colorado Springs:
• Cole Anthony, Briarwood, N.Y., 5-star PG Class of 2019 (No. 4 overall per Rivals)
• Armando Bacot, Richmond, Va., 5-star PF Class of 2019 (No. 17 overall per Rivals)
• Keion Brooks, Ft. Wayne, Ind., 4-star PF Class of 2019 (No. 35 overall per Rivals)
• DJ Carton, Bettendorf, Iowa, 4-star PG Class of 2019 (No. 30 overall per Rivals)
• Hunter Dickinson, Hyattsville, Md., 5-star C Class of 2020 (No. 18 overall)
• Ayo Dosunmu, Chicago, Illinois freshman PG
• Quentin Grimes, The Woodlands, Texas, KU freshman SG
• Kamaka Hepa, Portland, Ore., Texas freshman PF
• Matthew Hurt, Rochester, Minn., 5-star PF Class of 2019 (No. 5 overall per Rivals)
• Trayce Jackson-Davis, Greenwood, Ind., 5-star PF Class of 2019 (No. 22 overall per Rivals)
• Josiah James, Charleston, S.C., 5-star PG Class of 2019 (No. 15 overall per Rivals)
• Jalen Lecque, Teaneck, N.J., 5-star PG Class of 2019 (No. 9 overall per Rivals)
• Tyrese Maxey, Dallas, 5-star SG Class of 2019 & Kentucky commit
• Justin Moore, Hyattsville, Md., 4-star SG Class of 2019 (No. 57 overall per Rivals)
• Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, Bishop Miege, 5-star PF Class of 2019 (No. 16 overall per Rivals)
• Anton Watson, Spokane, Wash., 4-star PF Class of 2019 (No. 82 overall)
• Mark Watts Jr., Detroit, 4-star SG Class of 2019 (No. 67 overall per Rivals)
• Coby White, Goldsboro, N.C., North Carolina freshman SG