According to multiple reports, Kansas coaches Bill Self and Jerrance Howard spent part of their Valentine's Day on Wednesday visiting Romeo — Romeo Langford, that is.
Langford, the top remaining uncommitted prospect in the 2018 class, and one of the top targets on Kansas' wish list for months, is down to KU, Indiana and Vanderbilt and is in the process of making another round of check-ins with all three schools.
A product of New Albany, Indiana, Langford, a 6-foot-4, 185-pound shooting guard and dynamic scorer who is enjoying a monster senior season, has had plenty of opportunities to visit Indiana and continues to be wooed by both the IU basketball program and thousands of people in his home state on an almost-daily basis.
Think of the legend of the Indiana high school basketball player who can do no wrong and is a hero to everyone in the state, in the biggest cities and smallest farms, and that's pretty much the life Langford leads right now.
But just because the Hoosiers have the home-court advantage does not mean the Jayhawks or Commodores are out of it and that's why all three schools continue their pursuit of the prized recruit as hard as they ever have.
For Kansas, adding Langford to an already stellar class, which currently ranks No. 3 in the nation according to Rivals.com, would position the 2018 crew to be considered the best in the country and, arguably, the best Self and company have ever hauled in at KU.
With guards Devon Dotson and Quentin Grimes, big men Silvio De Sousa and David McCormack and Kansas City-area wing Ochai Agbaji already on board, adding Langford would put this group over the top, bringing the necessary added scoring and outside shooting that the Jayhawks need in the class.
Langford's father, Tim, recently spoke about all three of his son's finalists with Adam Zagoria, of zagsblog.com, and it's clear that playing alongside Dotson and Grimes would not be a problem for Langford, who knows both players very well.
“We like Coach Self as a coach and we also like the program,” Tim Langford told Zagoria. “We like their staff. He already mentioned that they were going to try to get those two guys (Devon Dotson and Quentin Grimes), they finally got Grimes. He was talking about doing a three-way offense for his guards and having Romeo, Grimes and Dotson take the ball up and down the court, so we don’t see any problem with that.”
Here's a quick look at Tim Langford's latest thoughts on Romeo's other two finalists:
“Well, first of all he’s homegrown and making history by staying at home and going to IU. And also we like the style of offense that Archie Miller has. They brought the one they had from Dayton, he brought that to Indiana. So we like that, but we still want to see a bit more and also get to know the coaching staff a little bit more, too.”
“Coach (Bryce) Drew, for one, played NBA ball for five or six years and his style of offense, Romeo can see himself fitting in that style of offense. But we like that program and the coaching staff also."
According to Zagoria, Langford is expected to visit Vanderbilt this weekend for Vandy's home game against Florida.
There remains no known timeline for a Romeo Langford decision. It's possible it could come before the April signing period arrives — perhaps at the McDonald's All-American Game in late March — or even sometime sooner.
In the meantime, there's no doubt that Langford and his family will continue to kick the tires on every aspect of each program and that coaches from all three will continue to recruit Langford like he is the player that could put them over the top.
As the calendar gets set to flip to February and the recruiting wars for college basketball's 2018 talent start to taper off, all eyes are on Romeo Langford, the top remaining uncommitted player in the 2018 class.
There are other prospects still searching for the right fit, of course. And a couple of them rank even in the teens among the top recruiting sites. Most of the rest are in the 25-65 range.
And then there's Romeo, at No. 5 in the 247 Sports composite rankings and No. 6 on Rivals.com's Top 150.
While many in the college basketball world are waiting to see what Langford will do, only three schools appear to have a real shot at the 6-foot-4, 185-pound shooting guard and scorer extraordinaire, who has narrowed his list down to a final three of Indiana, Kansas and Vanderbilt.
There is no exact time table for Langford to make a decision. Initially, it was believed to be slated for the April signing period and that still very well may be the case. But there have been recent rumblings about a decision coming sooner than that and coaches at all three of Langford's finalists are well aware of the importance of the next few weeks in their quest for the dynamic playmaker from New Albany, Indiana.
KU coach Bill Self and Kansas assistant Jerrance Howard were in Indiana last Friday to watch Langford and they were treated to a heck of a show, one that featured an alley-oop dunk in which Langford nearly went horizontal at the rim on the finish (1:48 mark in the video below). Videos of the moment showed that the dunk brought a smile to Self's face and inspired a standing ovation from Howard, who merely was joining the rest of the frenzied crowd that was wowed by Langford's athleticism.
In a recent interview with indystar.com, Langford's father, Tim Langford, told Zach Osterman that all three programs on his son's list of finalists had made solid impressions thus far.
The hope in the Hoosier State is that Langford will stay home and help bring Indiana back to national power status. He would be a cornerstone of new IU coach Archie Miller's rebuilding process and immediately would bring some serious local and national buzz back to the IU program.
At Vandy, head coach Bryce Drew is hoping Langford will become that player that puts his program back on the map. According to Osterman's article, Drew recently brought his entire coaching staff to New Albany to watch Langford play and gestures like that — which KU has made for plenty of players in the past and still could make with Langford — tend to go a long way toward catching a young man's attention.
And then there's the case for Kansas. Self loves the class he has signed already and believes that transfers Dedric Lawson, K.J. Lawson and Charlie Moore all will be ready to contribute next season after experiencing Kansas basketball as red-shirting spectators and practice players this season. And in Grimes and Dotson Self has the kind of guards that he so often desires, interchangeable parts with the ability to score and handle the ball while playing fast and furious on both ends of the floor.
What is uncertain is whether Kansas has a perimeter scorer in the wings to fill the void left by the departure of Graham and Mykhahiliuk. That's where Langford comes in and that's why Langford remains a priority for the Jayhawks. He is, by definition, a scoring threat from the wing and it's not hard to envision a scenario in which he competes for a starting spot at Kansas regardless of who returns and who doesn't.
So far this season, he is averaging 34 points, 9 rebounds and 4 assists a game while doing virtually everything for his team night in and night out.
One of the most interesting things about Langford's recruitment is just how similar his three finalists are. No, Indiana, Kansas and Vandy don't sit at the same table when it comes to the history and exposure that all three can provide.
But they are each "perfect fits," according to what Tim Langford told The Athletic's Brian Hamilton in a terrific look at Langford's life as a superstar prospect in a basketball-crazed town. And because of that, the family believes that Langford cannot make a bad choice.
At this point, Langford already has taken official visits to each of his three finalists. So any future visits, which may or may not come, would be of the unofficial variety and would merely be another opportunity to check out each program.
He was at Indiana, sitting behind the Hoosiers' bench, for a recent IU win over Northwestern. And his father told Osterman that he plans to try to get to Vanderbilt again at least for a practice. It may be harder to get to Lawrence, with the distance and his prep schedule not always lining up, but Tim Langford told Osterman, “As far as Kansas, we just pay attention on TV and see how they run things, stuff like that.”
There was some speculation that a nationally televised game on ESPNU in January would inspire Langford to announce his decision then. It didn't happen.
And there's been recent talk, including in Osterman's article, about the idea of announcing his choice at the McDonald's All-American Game on March 28.
“If he had that decision, (he could) make that announcement (at the McDonald's All American game),” Tim Langford told Osterman. “But if not, we’ll wait until April.”
Regardless of when his decision comes or where it happens, it's clear that all three schools are still alive and Langford's focus, at least as of today, is more on helping New Albany win a state title before worrying about the next step.
As things stand today, with Devonte' Graham and Svi Mykhailiuk headed out the door and Billy Preston's scholarship obviously available for next season, the Jayhawks are full.
Class of 2018 signees Devon Dotson, Quentin Grimes and David McCormack will take those three scholarships and Silvio De Sousa took this year's unused scholarship made available by the departure of forward Jack Whitman.
So in order to take on another player or two, which remains KU's goal, the Jayhawks will need to find a way to create a spot. With Udoka Azubuike, Malik Newman and Lagerald Vick all having the potential to entertain their NBA options following the 2017-18 season, it's not a stretch to see one of those three players leaving. And there is always the possibility of a player or two deciding to transfer out in search of a new challenge or more playing time.
Regardless of how that all plays out, the numbers crunch and finding spots has never been an issue for Self in the past and there's no reason to believe it would be now if the Jayhawks were able to land a player of Langford's caliber.
At 12-11 in the Big Ten and 8-14 in the SEC, Indiana and Vanderbilt, though not officially eliminated from contention, are, at this point, unlikely to become NCAA Touranment teams this season.
While neither staff will stop charging toward that goal, their current realities at least afford them the opportunity to keep one eye a little closer on the Langford situation and give them an easy opportunity, if not excuse, to send more resources that way.
Kansas, meanwhile, is in the middle of its quest for a record 14th consecutive Big 12 title and, once again, is trying to position itself to be a No. 1 seed in the Big Dance. That does not mean the Jayhawks will take a day off in the Langford arms race, but it does put them more in line with Langford, who is thinking more about the immediate task at hand and less about his future.
That's not to say reaching a decision is not weighing on his mind. In that, all four parties involved have something in common.
“It’s not stressful,” Langford told Hamilton of the recruiting process. “But it is something I think about almost every day.”
Be that as it may, Langford appears to be juggling all that goes into it wonderfully well. The small-school stardom in a basketball state, the constant questions from friends and reporters, the exposure, the attention, the elevated status as the guy who can turn around an entire program — all of it is a part of Langford's day to day life. And all of it is preparing him well for what comes next, regardless of where that may be.
Lavar Ball continues to stay in the public eye with his publicity stunt for his two sons in Lithuania, his Big Baller Brand shoe and apparel line and recent comments about Los Angeles Lakers coach Luke Walton.
But if the pie-in-the-sky dreamer’s proposed Junior Basketball Association is going to get off the ground as an NBA alternative for prep stars wanting to skip college, Kansas basketball coach Bill Self would like to see one rule be an important part of the league.
“If they do that, that’s fine, Lavar, do it,” Self recently told the Journal-World when asked about the potential impact of the JBA on college recruiting. “But make sure (the players) meet NCAA academic requirements or whatever before they can go so at least that way they have options.”
The reason Self believes some kind of academic element — be it a qualifying test score, specific grades or meeting NCAA requirements — is important for the grass roots league is because of the potential dangers of the league, or any other like it, operating without one.
Self said he did not believe the JBA, which is slated to open play this summer, would create issues with college recruiting.
“Could it have an impact? I guess it could,” he said. “But it’s not going to have more of an impact than what the NBA will.”
Right now, with college basketball — and eventually the NBA — being the ultimate goal of young ball players, most of them understand that if they do not take care of their academics throughout junior high and high school, reaching those levels is going to be harder to achieve.
If Ball’s JBA, which would pay as much as $10,000 a month to the top players and a minimum of $3,000 to the rest, operates without any academic guidelines, Self believes young players who otherwise would have been interested in college and the NBA could quickly be blinded by dollar signs and put academics on the back burner for good.
“I’m disappointed in anything that would inspire a 15- and 16-year-old to say, ‘You know what? Man, school’s hard, I know I can just go play pro ball and make money,” Self said. “If you tell a 9th and 10th grader that academics aren’t important and not to worry about Algebra II or Geometry or making grades or meeting NCAA requirements, they’re done before they ever get a chance to change their minds. They could be making academic decisions (that impact) the rest of their lives at age 15 and 16 if they feel like there’s a safety net of, ‘Well, if I don’t make it in the NBA I can go here and make a lot of money.’ That’s not right.”
Self said he was not against the idea of the league itself. He just would much prefer that young athletes still value some level of education before developing tunnel vision on playing basketball for money.
While the dream of NBA fame and riches already drives many young players today, nearly all of them know and understand from an early age that performing well in the classroom is a required part of getting there.
“They could still have that future with the important of academics in their minds,” Self said of playing in the JBA. “If you just prepare yourself for it academically and then, at the end of the preparation, you decide, ‘This is best for me,’ I’m fine with that.”
Beyond that, Self said skipping college to go play in a grass roots league to make some quick money could prove detrimental in terms of missing out on valuable life experiences that college provides.
“When they say, ‘This kid doesn’t want to go to college.’ Well, I think there’s a lot of parents of kids who aren’t athletes that make their kids go to college,” Self said. “And then, by the time they’re in college, they say, ‘Hey, I can see why this is important, I can see the future, I can see the positives that come from education.’ And I think it would be the same thing with athletes. “How many players have we coached at Kansas that if they’d have had the opportunity or somebody had told them that a league like this was out there then their commitment to academics would have been altered? More importantly, how many have graduated that, when they got here were thinking, ‘Man, I hate school.’ And then they got here and they realized, ‘Nah, school’s OK. This is fun.’ The social part is a big part of the education, not just taking classes, so...
“The thing that I just despise is for anybody to put something out there that is unproven that doesn’t take the academic interests of a youngster into play. I understand that there are financial difficulties and these sorts of things. But, hey, high school diploma, being able to qualify and go to a university and maybe being the first family member to graduate, all the positive things that come from education; to plant the seeds that those things aren’t meaningful doesn’t sit well with me.”
One thing Self believed could help ensure the JBA is a success on all levels if the NBA’s involvement.
“There’s going to be some changes, I believe, with one-and-dones and how all this ties in from the NBA to the collegiate (game) to the grass roots (leagues),” he said. “And I think the NBA will be on board to help with all this and want to understand what all the problems are with collegiate basketball and grass roots basketball.”
There's no telling where the Kansas men's basketball team will be two weeks from now, either in terms of its record, its standing in the Big 12 Conference or what the roster will look like.
This much we know for sure, though. The Jayhawks will know in two weeks whether they will be adding one of the top players in the country into the mix next season.
Zion Williamson, a 6-foot-7, 230-pound monster of a man who ranks as the No. 2 player in the 2018 recruiting class, announced on Twitter that he will make his decision on January 20.
While most people have started leaning toward the highlight machine from Spartanburg, South Carolina, staying close to home for college — Clemson, South Carolina and Kentucky all are in the running — the Jayhawks have not been eliminated yet and Bill Self and company spent just as much time as anybody out there going after this big time player.
Williamson made his official visit to KU during Late Night and was serenaded with chants of his name from the Allen Fieldhouse crowd as he walked onto the court and took his seat. Smiling big, Williamson waved to the crowd and appeared to love every second of it.
That's not to say he did not enjoy his visits elsewhere just as much, but it's worth noting that Williamson clearly enjoyed himself at Kansas. The versatile forward also hosted KU's coaches for an official in-home visit during this process and saw Self and company standing in the crowd for several of his AAU and high school events.
Known for his eye-popping dunks and athleticism and big time ability as both a passer and a rebounder, the one knock on Williamson continues to be his shooting ability, but the pros in his game far outweigh the cons in the eyes of most coaches.
Officially, Williamson is down to Clemson, Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina and South Carolina. He was only able to make official visits to four of those six schools, but because of his proximity to both Clemson and South Carolina, he is very familiar with the two schools closest to his high school.
247 Sports, which joins Rivals.com in listing Williamson as the No. 2 overall player in the 2018 class, has Clemson and Kentucky as the co-leaders in their Crystal Ball rankings, with each program picking up 41 percent of the predictions. Kansas and North Carolina are next with 6 percent apiece, with Duke and South Carolina considered longshots.
Despite the good time during his trip to Lawrence, people have speculated for weeks that KU is all but out of the running for Williamson, mostly because his family would like to see him stay close to home.
"He has taken official visits to Kansas, UNC, Duke and Kentucky, and any of the four would love to add the talents of Williamson," wrote Rivals recruiting analyst, Corey Evans. "However, the talk lately has centered around the Clemson basketball program. Off to its best start since the hiring of Brad Brownell, the Tigers have sold (Williamson on) the idea of playing for his home state and (Clemson) is also the place where Williamson's stepfather, Lee Anderson, played his college ball from 1981 to 1983."
Nothing will be official until Williamson makes the announcement, which is now a little more than two weeks away.
KU plays at home against Baylor on Jan. 20 and that game is sandwiched between road games at West Virginia (Jan. 15) and Oklahoma (Jan. 23), so, clearly, the Jayhawks will have plenty on their minds on Williamson's decision day.
This merely adds to the list and is worth tracking, even if the Jayhawks appear to be a longshot at this point.
Recruiting update: The latest on Williamson & Langford, plus identifying Silvio De Sousa’s potential first game
While so much of the recent KU basketball recruiting talk has surrounded the status of Class of 2018 big man Silvio De Sousa and his quest to come to Kansas in time for the second semester — understandably so, given the enormous lift that would give this year's team — the KU coaching staff remains in pursuit of additional talent in what already is a stacked 2018 class.
With four elite players signed already — De Sousa, big man David McCormack, point guard Devon Dotson and combo guard Quentin Grimes all made their commitments official during the early signing period — KU coach Bill Self said he was looking for a perimeter scorer to round out the class.
The top two such players on KU's wish list in that area also happen to be two of the most highly touted players in the class in forward Zion Williamson and shooting guard Romeo Langford.
Neither player has tipped his hand quite yet on where he might be headed, but Kansas appears to be in the underdog role in terms of landing either of them.
Here's a quick look at what Rivals.com analyst Corey Evans recently said about KU's current standing with both players.
“The Jayhawks aren't a favorite for either,” Evans wrote. “But they have a fighter’s chance.”
Evans on Williamson: “The Jayhawks, while they were at one point a favorite for him, are playing catch-up with Williamson. Most of the talk recently has centered around Duke, Clemson and Kentucky. I give the Jayhawks a slim 20-percent chance with Williamson.”
My take: It seems that most of the reason for KU slipping in the chase for Williamson has more to do with what other schools can offer and not anything KU has done to lose ground. All three of those programs are closer to Williamson's Spartanburg, S.C., home than Kansas and that appears to be a big factor for him and his family. Beyond that, Duke and Kentucky both also offer the blue blood experience that Kansas can. Williamson absolutely loved his visit to KU and has a terrific connection with the coaching staff. Plus, with KU's 2018 class currently constructed the way it is, he would be given the freedom to play whatever role and wherever he wanted if he came to Kansas. Those facts keep KU in the hunt but may not be enough to overcome the distance factor.
Evans on Langford: “Langford may be the more attainable prospect. The five-star scoring guard recently cut his list to a group of three consisting of Vanderbilt, Indiana and Kansas. I give the Jayhawks around a 40-percent chance of securing his commitment. They can sell their pedigree and ability to develop Langford out of the spotlight, whereas there would be extra attention and pressure placed upon him as a Commodore or Hoosier.”
My take: Most of the recent recruiting trail chatter that I've heard about Langford has Vandy making the strongest move of late. His has been a weird recruitment in that all three of his finalists have at one point been reported to be the destination and that it was all just a matter of time. Obviously, Evans' 40 percent call gives KU a decent shot at him. In fact, assuming you split the remaining 60 percent in half for Indiana and Vanderbilt, KU may in fact be the favorite. But I think it's been too tough of a recruitment to follow to call any of them the favorite at this point and we will just have to wait and see how things shake out. Langford is a terrific shooter and scorer and may be exactly that kind of perimeter player that Self is talking about when he outlines the one piece he still would like to add. And I know many of those who already have signed with KU would love to play with Langford. With those things in mind, I'd expect KU to put one more hard, full-court press on Langford in the coming weeks.
While we're talking recruiting, here's the latest from Self on the status of De Sousa, who still appears to be on track to graduate from IMG Academy early and report to Kansas in time for the second semester.
The addition of the 6-foot-9, 245-pound forward with an impressive physical presence and a motor that does not quit would be a huge boost for a Kansas team that is paper thin in the front court.
If all goes well, it appears that KU's Big 12 opener at Texas on Dec. 29 would be the first game De Sousa would be eligible to play in.
“I believe so,” Self said Monday. “We've talked about that. His (situation) is a little bit screwy in that his actual last final (at IMG) is after that (Nebraska) game. If we think everything is good, I believe he could actually come here but not be certified yet, which means he couldn't play in a game.”
“We'll just have to wait and see. I'm confident that his last final is after the Nebraska game. So the only game he could technically play would be Stanford (on Dec. 21). But getting all that paperwork done before the Stanford game, that's not going to happen. So the best-case scenario is to hopefully have him for our conference play when we get back from Christmas. That's probably the best-case scenario if everything goes perfect.”
Kansas coach Bill Self has coached and recruited a couple dozen supremely talented players who went on to enjoy success in the NBA and beyond during his coaching career.
In the past month, one of those helped five-star guard Quentin Grimes, a 6-foot-5, 190-pound combo guard from The Woodlands, Texas, who committed to and signed with Kansas on Wednesday night.
In the press release announcing Grimes' signing, Self said the newest Jayhawk reminded him a lot of Deron Williams, whom he had recruited and coached at Illinois.
Williams, you may remember, was an All-American at Illinois, earned multiple all-Big Ten honors, led his team to the NCAA championship game in 2005 and became the No. 3 overall pick in the 2005 NBA Draft.
So, obviously, that kind of comparison qualifies as high praise for Grimes, who Self actually said was a better scorer at the same age than Williams.
The news was nothing new for Grimes.
“He tells me that all the time,” Grimes said with a laugh.
But the Williams-Grimes connection did not stop with Self simply explaining how the two were similar.
“I actually talked to Deron Williams probably two, three weeks ago, and he just explained to me how much he loves Coach Self and how I would fit in great with their program,” Grimes said. “It was kind of a wow moment because I got to pick his brain a little bit, ask him a few questions about Coach Self and also about non-Kansas stuff like the NBA and find out what you have to do to get your game ready for that next level.”
As for what he asked Williams about Self specifically, Grimes said he just appreciated the opportunity to run KU's recruiting pitch by someone who had been in his shoes before to see if the pitch and actually playing for him matched up.
It sounds like it did.
“I asked him a lot,” Grimes said of his phone conversation with Williams. “How is Coach Self on the court, off the court, if he really lets you play your game. And he kept it real with me the whole time so that was kind of another big factor that went into my decision.”
While the Williams comparison is somewhat new to Grimes, looking to NBA stars for help with his game is not. Although he's never had the chance to get them on the phone, Grimes named four NBA players — three current and one past star — as players he looks to when trying to develop and piece together his own individual game.
“I kind of look at a lot of players,” Grimes said. “I like to look at Penny Hardaway. I like the way Chris Paul can control a game. I'm watching Russell Westbrook, the way he attacks and I watch James Harden, the way he kind of lulls defenders to sleep and also can get to the bucket and make plays for his teammates.”
Now that Grimes has signed with Kansas, he can add Williams to that list and actually get some of the same coaching that the three-time NBA All-Star once got.
The Kansas men’s basketball program’s pursuit of additional talent to add to its already strong Class of 2018 recruiting haul continued over the weekend, with five-star shooting guard Romeo Langford making his official visit to KU’s campus.
Langford, 6-foot-5, 191 pounds, from New Albany, Indiana, made Kansas his fifth and final official visit, following up trips to North Carolina, Indiana, UCLA and Vanderbilt.
Following the visit, his father, Tim Langford, told Matt Scott of TheShiver.com on Sunday night that the trip went “very well,” adding, “We like the facilities and the campus. We're going to talk as a family on what's next.”
Ranked No. 5 in the 247 Sports composite rankings of the 2018 recruiting class, there are differing reports out there about when Langford might make a decision.
Initially expected to be a spring signee, at least one outlet believes that could change.
Eric Bossi, of Rivals.com, on Monday, wrote the following: “All along, Langford has said that he plans to wait until the spring to sign. However, it's looking more like he could end up signing early. A few weeks ago, I would have given the slight edge to Kansas in this recruitment, but now it seems that it could be swinging back in the direction of Indiana. His visit to Bloomington a few weekends ago seems to have done wonders for the Hoosiers' chances with Langford. We'll have to see what type of word leaks out about his visit to Kansas and if that changes things. The other school that I'd watch out for most at this time is a tossup between Vanderbilt and North Carolina but at the moment I think he picks either the Hoosiers or Jayhawks.”
Should Langford elect to make it official early, he would have to make a decision fairly soon. The early signing period runs from Nov. 8-15, which is just over a week away.
According to Scott, Langford has the look of a player who will be waiting until the regular signing period, which begins April 11, 2018 and the talented guard’s father told Scott that the plan now was to “cut it down to three (finalists) in a couple of weeks.”
With big men Silvio De Sousa and David McCormack already on board and point guard Devon Dotson also in the fold — that trio alone has put KU’s class at the No. 2 spot in the national rankings — the Jayhawks continue to pursue perimeter players to put around them, both to fit the style KU coach Bill Self likes to play and as protection against the possibility of as many as five or six players from the 2017-18 roster leaving Kansas after the end of the upcoming season.
Five-star prospects Zion Williamson and Quentin Grimes remain at the top of KU’s wish list, with the coaching staff checking in on Grimes yet again as recently as Sunday, according to 247 Sports analyst Andrew Slater.
Sunday’s Border War break was nice while it lasted, but Monday marked a return to business as usual for the Kansas men’s basketball program.
Specifically, to recruiting.
And, in actuality, there was really nothing normal about the move the KU coaching staff made on Monday in its pursuit of five-star Class of 2018 prospect Quentin Grimes.
Grimes, who visited KU a couple of weeks ago and was in town when former Jayhawk Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers practiced at Allen Fieldhouse, has narrowed his list to a final four of Kansas, Marquette, Kentucky and Texas.
According to 247 Sports’ Crystal Ball predictions, the Jayhawks remain the leader for the 6-foot-5 guard from The Woodlands, Texas, but Bill Self and company are not leaving anything to chance.
According to a Tweet from 247 recruiting analyst Evan Daniels, Self on Monday, with all three assistant coaches by his side, joined Jerrance Howard, Norm Roberts and Kurtis Townsend in making a trip south on Monday to visit Grimes at his school.
The five-star prospect who is ranked No. 16 in the 2018 class by 247 Sports, wrapped up his official visits over the weekend with a trip to Marquette and has now made official visits and hosted in-home visits with all four of his finalists.
The KU coaches, who, according to Matt Scott of TheShiver.com, made the trip to Texas shortly after the Border War win over Mizzou on Sunday, have been ultra-aggressive in their pursuit of Grimes, whose mother attended KU, and, according to several reports have told the talented shooting guard that they believe he is the best guard in the class.
"Grimes had a great time during his visit to Kansas with his family," Scott wrote Monday. "And he plans on announcing between now and the end of the year. Texas, Kentucky, Marquette and Kansas are the schools Grimes is considering, but Kansas is the run-a-way leader at this point."
As long as the whole band was on the recruiting trail together, Self and company decided to make one more stop, according to Adam Zagoria of zagsblog.com. KU’s coaches were slated to check in on Class of 2019 forward Matthew Hurt later in the day Monday.
Hurt, a 6-foot-9, 199-pound athletic forward from John Marshall Senior High in Rochester, Minnesota, is ranked as the No. 5 overall player in the 2019 class by 247 Sports.
Hurt made an unofficial visit to KU for Late Night in 2016 and has been firmly on KU’s radar throughout the recruiting process. Zagoria reported Monday that Hurt plans to visit Lawrence again for the Nov. 17 South Dakota State game at Allen Fieldhouse.
While there’s still plenty of time to make a final push for Hurt and the rest of the 2019 class, it’s quickly approaching crunch time in the 2018 class, which will be first eligible to sign national letters of intent on Nov. 8.
The early signing period runs through Nov. 15 and the Jayhawks, who currently have the No. 2-ranked recruiting class in the country according to Rivals.com, are expected to receive letters from big men Silvio De Sousa and David McCormack along with point guard Devon Dotson next month.
Adding Grimes to that trio would only bolster KU’s impressive 2018 class and put the Jayhawks in the running for the top spot in the standings, with more scholarships to give and a few of their top targets still undecided.
Speaking of those undecideds, Zagoria also reported that a source told him five-star forward Zion Williamson was no longer considering UCLA and will not visit Los Angeles this weekend.
While many believe the battle for Williamson will come down to KU, plenty still believe in-state schools Clemson and South Carolina are both still very much alive for the ultra-athletic forward.
The work is not done in the 2018 recruiting class for the Kansas men’s basketball program, which, after landing three big time commitments in the past couple of months, currently boasts the No. 2-ranked class to date per Rivals.com, just three points behind Michigan State, which has five 2018 players committed.
Among the 2018 class thus far, Bill Self and company are tied for tops in the nation, with Arizona and Duke, with two five-star commitments and also sit tied with Arizona with a 4.67 average-per-playing star rating.
Point guard Devon Dotson, who committed to Kansas last week, and Oak Hill big man David McCormack, are both five-star prospects. And IMG forward Silvio De Sousa, who was the first in the class to commit to Kansas, is a listed as a four-star prospect with the potential to move up.
Needless to say, that trio alone would leave Kansas in pretty good shape, both in terms of reloading its roster and in the team rankings when the ink on all of the signings is dry.
But the fact that KU is still heavily involved with some of the top players in the class, including powerhouse forward Zion Williamson, leaves the potential for KU’s 2018 recruiting class to be the best in school history, no small feat.
The Jayhawks remain in the hunt for Williamson, and also are pursuing guards Quentin Grimes and Romeo Langford. It’s not impossible to envision a scenario in which all three decide to become Jayhawks and it seems likely that at least one of them will.
KU has been rumored for weeks to be a strong possibility for Langford and the addition of Dotson only strengthens KU’s chances at landing Williamson because the 6-7, 230-pound, do-everything forward who visited KU for Late Night absolutely loves playing with Dotson.
Add to that the fact that Dotson is now in hot pursuit of any and all potential Kansas teammates and it’s easy to see that the Jayhawks are far from done in what is already shaping up to be a stellar class.
“Of course I’m gonna be going hard after some other players in my class trying to get them to join me,” Dotson wrote in his USA Today blog after his commitment. “I’m gonna be talking to Zion. I feel like me and Quentin Grimes would play well together and Romeo Langford too. Those are the players I’m focusing on for now.”
While Dotson turns up the heat on some of the top remaining talent in the 2018 class, the KU coaches continue to try to close the deal on a couple more 2018 prospects while also exploring possibilities for 2019 and beyond.
Self and company got some good news on that front earlier this week, when Vernon Carey, the No. 1 overall player in the 2019 class, per Rivals.com, revealed his Top 8, with Kansas firmly in the mix.
Carey, a 6-9, 230-pound forward from University High in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, listed Duke, Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, Miami, Michigan State, UCLA and UNC as his finalists, telling Corey Evans of Rivals.com: “I just feel like I have good relationship with all their coaching staffs. I am probably talking to Duke, Michigan State and Miami the most.”
KU has some work to do to crack Carey’s final list, but the Jayhawks also have time. Carey told Evans that he planned to trim his list one final time next summer before making a decision.
That gives the KU coaches time to continue to make their pitch to the versatile lefty while also continuing efforts to add to the already-stacked 2018 class that just keeps getting better and has taken a lot of the stress of the class out of the equation by landing so many quality early commitments.
Remember, KU had just one early commitment in the 2017 class — four-star guard Marcus Garrett — and only wound up with two players in the entire class, leaving KU with one unused scholarship heading into the 2017-18 season.
While college programs across the country continue to pursue them at a fevered rate, some of the best high school players in the country will get a break from the recruiting rumbling this weekend for an opportunity with USA Basketball.
Saturday and Sunday in Colorado Springs, 54 elite prep prospects will participate in a USA Basketball minicamp, with the goal of giving the athletes continued exposure to the international game while also advancing and developing their overall skills in a fun and ferocious setting.
“This minicamp will be extremely competitive as we are bringing the top seniors in the country along with the top U17 players together,” said USA Basketball’s Don Showalter, who has guided USA Basketball to nine-straight gold medals as head coach of the USA Men’s U16 and U17 National Teams since 2009. “These players will be competing against the best, so the scrimmages will be intense. They are all familiar with the FIBA rules and understand international competition to a degree, and most will come in with some knowledge of the USA Basketball culture, having been to a training camp previously.”
Eighteen of the 54 invitees are from the prep class of 2018, including Kansas targets Zion Williamson, Quentin Grimes and Romeo Langford.
The remaining 36 spots will be filled by players in the classes of 2019, 2020 and 2021, including R.J. Hampton, Jalen Suggs, James Wiseman and many other players on KU’s radar.
The 2018 graduates are eligible for the 2018 USA Junior National Select Team that will compete in the 21st annual Nike Hoop Summit next April. The underclassmen will be eligible for the 2018 USA Basketball Men’s U17 World Cup Team, which will compete in Argentina next summer.
Thirty-nine of the invited minicamp participants own prior USA Basketball experience, including 15 gold medalists. They will be coached by Showalter and a group of assistants that includes former NBA star Penny Hardaway.
The two-day minicamp will feature morning and afternoon sessions each day, with scrimmages and skill sessions accounting for the majority of their time in Colorado.