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Evans Seven: April's big winners

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Kyle Guy
Kyle Guy (AP Images)

April had its share of fireworks. There was a new national champion, a bevy of commitments and a slew of coaching changes. While there is still a few more days before May begins, we wanted to assess the top winners of the month in this week’s Evans Seven.

MORE: Wednesday Leftovers | 3-Point Play

1. Virginia 

We have to begin this list with Virginia. It was the Cavaliers that cut down the nets earlier this month in Minneapolis, getting the monkey off of Tony Bennett’s back and delivering the program its first national title.

Since then, things haven't been great, with the early departures of Ty Jerome and DeAndre Hunter, although those decisions weren't unexpected. But Kyle Guy's early departure was a bit of a surprise. Mamadi Diakite could also leave, but he should be returning for another year of college ball.

A positive did come in the form of three-star forward Justin McKoy, who gave his verbal pledge to UVA following his official visit to campus. The Cavaliers also secured official visits dates from Marquette transfers Joey Hauser and Sam Hauser. Virginia did take it to the chin with some early departures, but winning the national title tops all when it comes to dominating April.

2. North Carolina 

Cole Anthony
Cole Anthony (Nick Lucero/Rivals.com)

Roy Williams and his staff took some heat for their inability to close the deal with five-star talent this winter, but the Tar Heels made up for things in April. Cole Anthony, the top point guard prospect in the 2019 class, decided that it was in his best interest to suit up for the blueblood program. Anthony's commitment was critical and it filled a big void left by Coby White, who is going to the NBA. That void will immediately be filled by one of the few freshmen who could step into White's shoes in the backcourt.

Joining Anthony will be Anthony Harris, his ideal backcourt complement thanks to his defensive prowess. UNC could go a step further by landing Charleston Southern guard Christian Keeling next month but, either way, the Tar Heels are leaving the month in a much better position than they entered it.

3. DUKE 

Matthew Hurt
Matthew Hurt (Courtesy of McDonald's All-American Game)

Sure, Duke came up short and was not able to make its way to Minneapolis. That was a crushing blow to the one-and-done seasons of elite freshmen RJ Barrett, Zion Williamson and Cam Reddish. It was no surprise that all three entered their names into the NBA Draft, but the great news came when Tre Jones decided to return for his sophomore year, giving the Blue Devils a premier playmaker that many of their teams lacked in prior years. Duke had no other options to replace Jones at the point guard position.

More good news came for the Blue Devils when they added an ideal floor spacing, versatile defender in the frontcourt: Matthew Hurt. They then secured the commitment of Cassius Stanley, creating what is now the best class in America and giving Coach K another roster that can compete for the national championship.

4. Texas A&M

Buzz Williams
Buzz Williams (AP Images)

The loss of its athletic director Scott Woodward to LSU did sting some, but the hiring of Buzz Williams prior to that injected some much-needed energy and optimism into a program that has the support to compete with the best in college basketball. Since his hiring, Williams has won over the masses in College Station, thanks to his outgoing personality and his work done on the recruiting trail.

April 16, 2019, could go down as the day that Aggies basketball began its ascent within the elite in the game. They landed four top targets in a two-hour time frame. Cashius McNeilly, Andre Gordon, Yavuz Gultekin and Quenton Jackson all gave their verbal commitments to the program during visits to campus, and each could become the foundation for another Buzz Williams rejuvenation project.

5. Michigan State 

Cassius Winston
Cassius Winston (AP Images)

The Spartans didn’t begin the month as they had planned, coming up short to the hands of Texas Tech in Minneapolis. Since then, outside of Nick Ward leaving early for the NBA Draft, the Spartans have been on the upswing.

The return of Cassius Winston is a major boon for the program. He has the chance to go down as one of the best players in school history and also give Tom Izzo quite possibly his best chance at a national title since 2000. Replacing Winston this spring would have been practically impossible, but with another year to go before having to do so, the Spartans got a leg up with the commitment of four-star junior Jalen Terry. Toss in their dark horse candidacy in the race for Virginia Tech grad-transfer Kerry Blackshear, and their chances with Marquette transfers Joey Hauser and Sam Hauser and what you have is a major winner in MSU.

6. Alabama 

Kira Lewis
Kira Lewis (AP Images)

There was some pessimism early on with how Nate Oats would fare in Tuscaloosa. While questions remain, Alabama has found a way to win the month without playing a single game.

First, it was Oats’ ability to lure John Petty and Kira Lewis back to the program. Both were top contributors to Alabama’s success last year and after Avery Johnson was fired, each entered their names into the transfer portal. Keeping both was a major win, as was the Tide’s ability to land WVU grad-transfer Beetle Bolden, an immediately eligible guard that could create one of the most dynamic backcourts in the SEC next season alongside Petty and Lewis.

Alabama has also found traction with top traditional transfers Jahvon Quinerly and RJ Cole, the latter of whom the Tide will host for his first official visit next weekend, and they remain in the race for five-star forward Trendon Watford.

7. Georgetown 

Omer Yurtseven
Omer Yurtseven (AP Images)

Jessie Govan has exhausted all of his college eligibility, but April was so kind to the Hoyas that the loss of its all-league player has come without much noise. Georgetown will bring back much of its underclassmen talent next year. Mac McClung, James Akinjo, Josh LeBlanc and JaMarko Pickett all return. They will be bolstered by the services of Omer Yurtseven, a former NC State standout who sat out last season due to transfer restrictions. The Hoyas have added even more to their core group over the past 30 days, with former LSU product and junior college forward Galen Alexander, a top remaining senior this spring in Myron Gardner and grad-transfer Terrell Allen, who should immediately help in the scoring department next year. Altogether, the Hoyas now have an even better chance of playing in next season’s NCAA Tournament.

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