Conference Call: Weekend's biggest official visits in each league
It has not been the best of weeks for the college basketball industry but the recruiting world moves on. A number of power programs are expected to host some of the top remaining talent from the 2018 class, as others have lined up visits from the top underclassmen. In this week’s conference rundown, we outline the top visits per power league and why the next few days are so important for the staffs at Maryland, Florida, Virginia Tech and Kansas.
ACC: VIRGINIA TECH
ESPN's College GameDay is headed to Blacksburg this weekend and while all eyes will be on whether the Hokies can give Dabo Swinney’s second-ranked Clemson squad its first loss of the season, Buzz Williams will be doing his very best to better his standing with a plethora of elite talent from the East Coast. David Duke and Landers Nolley, the Hokies’ top remaining targets in the 2018 class, will head to campus for an official visit. Virginia Tech is a major darkhorse with Duke and having recently enrolled good friend and former travel and high school teammate, Wabissa Bede, does not hurt its cause. Nolley heads to Virginia Tech, a program that should be seen as the favorite for him as his commitment is expected within the next 10 days. Along with the four-star duo will be Jarren McCallister, an already committed swingman, and Trey McGowans, a blossoming combo guard from North Carolina. Future talent including five-star big man Armando Bacot, and Rivals150 juniors Casey Morsell, Deuce Dean and Anthony Harris will all be on campus Saturday.
BIG EAST: XAVIER
The Musketeers have yet to strike in the 2018 class but they’re hoping that it all could change this weekend as they bring in Rivals150 forward Jermaine Harris and emerging senior guard Keonte Kennedy. Harris, a 6-foot-8 power forward that played for the same travel program as current freshman small forward Naji Marshall, will head to Xavier for his third official visit thus far. West Virginia and Rhode Island have gained the majority of the talk surrounding the DC Premier product, though Xavier has much to offer. Alongside him will be Westlake High product Keonte Kennedy. A number of programs including Arkansas, Memphis and Michigan continue to keep tabs but with the upcoming departure of senior wing JP Macura, a giant void looms on the wing.
BIG TEN: MARYLAND
It is shaping up to be a ginormous weekend for Maryland as it will bring in two five-star guards along with another Rivals150 four-star recruit. The latter being Eric Ayala, a strong and sturdy combo guard that recently visited Miami. Ayala will be joined by Keldon Johnson, one of the top alpha dogs in the 2018 class. There is a connection between Johnson and a staff member in College Park as recently named assistant coach, Kevin Broadus, successfully recruited Johnson’s brother, Kaleb Johnson, to Georgetown during his prior employment. Beating Kentucky, NC State and Texas will be difficult for Johnson, just as it will be tough to beat Kansas and Florida for the other visitor, top-25 guard Devon Dotson. If the Terps can find a way to land any of the three visitors from the weekend, things could be shaping up for top-10 recruiting class as they already hold the commitments from five-star power forward Jalen Smith and four-star guard Aaron Wiggins.
BIG 12: KANSAS
Late Night at the Phog has come for the Kansas Jayhawks, the annual tip-off event to the college basketball season. Past years have not been short for talented visitors and this year is nothing outside of the norm. The headliner of the weekend is Zion Williamson, the top-ranked forward prospect in the 2018 class. This will be his first official visit as he was unable to trip to Kentucky last weekend due to family issues. The Jayhawks made up major ground with him this summer and should be seen in a favorable light even before his visit to Lawrence. From the 2019 class, five-star power forward James Wiseman and Rivals150 products Malik Hall and Chandler Lawson, the latter being the younger brother of KJ Lawson and Dedrick Lawson, are expected on campus, along with the youngest Lawson brother, Johnathon. So too are Rivals50 sophomores RJ Hampton, Xavier Foster, Jalen Suggs, N’Faly Dante, Jabri Abdur-Rahim and Bryce Thompson.
The Ducks struck in a major way last week with the commitment of Lou King, a five-star small forward from New Jersey, but this weekend is vital if they want to remain among the West Coast elite. The Ducks will bring in five-star power forward Emmitt Williams and should be seen as the early favorite for him. LSU and USC are likely to receive visits from him next month so expect for Dana Altman to show just how vital he is for the program. Joining Williams will be his travel teammate, Will Richardson. He is a slender lefty guard that would be leaned upon immediately due to the upcoming departure of grad-transfer Elijah Brown. He visited Georgia earlier this month and is supposed to visit Gonzaga next month. Lastly, Bol Bol, a five-star center, will head to Eugene. He visited UCLA last weekend for an unofficial visit and while Arizona was seen as the heavy favorite prior to this week’s allegations, the Ducks could use his visit as a jumpstart in their race for the talented senior.
It is an important weekend for Mike White’s program as the Gators will host potentially their backcourt of their future. Andrew Nembhard recently moved up his visit by two weeks as Florida has gained major traction with arguably the best passer in high school basketball. USC, Ohio State and Gonzaga remain involved, though Florida has made Nembhard a priority and could be on the cusp of locking him down. Joining the five-star guard will be one of the very best shooters in America, Noah Locke. Considering the Gators, Xavier, Providence, Michigan and Ohio State, expect for a commitment from Locke following his official visit. His trip to Gainesville will be his fifth and final official visit taken.