Evans Seven: Programs with important visits this weekend
Another busy weekend is ahead as some of the top class of 2019 prospects hit the road for college visits. In this week’s Evans Seven, all eyes are on Illinois, UNC, Wake Forest and Oregon as they play host to more than one of their top targets.
It is a weekend of reckoning for the Illini, as they bring to campus their top targets in the 2019 class. EJ Liddell, down to a final three of Illinois, Ohio State and Missouri, will complete his official visit tour this weekend and is expected to come to a college decision shortly thereafter. Selecting a favorite for Liddell might be difficult, but each have a puncher’s chance with the uberly-versatile forward.
Along with Liddell will be Terrence Shannon, one of the top breakthrough performers from the travel circuit this summer. He was originally committed to DePaul. Weeks ago, this was bound to end with a Florida State commitment, and the Seminoles remain heavily in the mix. But kudos to Illinois as it now sits alongside FSU as a favorite.
This is one of Brad Underwood's biggest weekends since he took things over in Champaign. It could be the one that transforms the program and sets the Illini up for Big Ten title contention for years to come.
What an important weekend it will be for Roy Williams’ program, as the Tar Heels will welcome to town a pair of five-star prospects that play alongside each other at IMG Academy. Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, one of the best frontcourt prospects in America that boasts a super diverse skill set, will head to UNC to get a better feel for what the Tar Heels might be able to offer. His father played for Williams at Kansas, so there is a built-in relationship that has been maintained throughout the years. UNC is primarily battling the Jayhawks for his ultimate commitment.
Not to be outdone, Josh Green, an elite guard prospect by way of Australia who grew up a UNC fan, will get his first glimpse of the Chapel Hill campus. Only one other visit is scheduled for the time being - to Arizona next month - and the Tar Heels may be the team to beat. An imminent commitment from either is not expected, but look for UNC to gain even greater momentum with both of its five-star visitors following their weekend stay.
Danny Manning and his staff have done a fine job of working their way into the mix for a bevy of Rivals150 prospects in recent months, but they still have not struck in the 2019 class. They hope to erase that fact this weekend, as three of Wake Forest's top targets are taking official visits.
While the Deacons might not be deemed as the favorite for any of their visitors, they are also not totally out of the running in any of the recruitments. Beating Virginia Tech for top-five defender Anthony Harris might be difficult, although the Deacons have continued to heavily pursue him. Ismael Massoud will be on campus, as well, and Harvard, Rutgers and Auburn are battling for his commitment, too. Jared Jones is the final visitor, and he recently visited Northwestern last weekend.
Of the group, Jones is the likeliest to commit to Manning’s program, though the Deacons are making up some ground with Massoud.
It's just a monster of a weekend for the Huskies, as Mike Hopkins gets first dibs in hosting arguably one of the most productive frontline prospects in the nation. Isaiah Stewart, a native of Rochester, N.Y., developed a strong rapport with Hopkins during his time as an assistant at Syracuse. Could that relationship be enough to get Stewart to buy into saying yes to the Huskies over a bevy of brand-name programs? We are about to find out. Duke, Michigan State, Indiana, Syracuse, Villanova and Kentucky remain involved, but Stewart has often talked about his relationship with the coaching staff as one of the deciding factors in selecting a college.
Along with Stewart will be another fifth-ranked prospect, that being Paulo Banchero, a member of the 2021 class whose parents both starred at UW in their own respective sports. Two top-five prospects on campus at one time? There could be something brewing in Seattle this weekend.
Syracuse has some shoes to fill in its frontcourt, and after Jim Boeheim and his staff made an early strike in the 2019 class in the form of Rivals150 guard Brycen Goodine, the Orange's frontline will be the point of emphasis this weekend.
The now and the future will be on campus, as Quincy Guerrier, a high-end four-star prospect, will spend an official visit. He has already visited Oregon and could potentially visit Illinois next month, as he will enroll in college mid-year and could actually suit up in a meaningfully game at the turn of the calendar year.
The Canadian talent will be joined by John Bol Ajak, a top-50 prospect in the center category who saw his recruitment really pick up this summer. Others including Georgetown, Pitt and VCU remain involved, but the Orange might be the favorite. Guerrier is not far off from a decision, and Ajak might not be, either, so Syracuse is in a prime spot to refill its frontcourt cupboard in the weeks ahead.
A big one for the Ducks this weekend, as two five-star prospects descend upon the Eugene campus as Dana Altman is hoping to plug a hole for the immediate and the long-term future of the program.
A top July breakthrough, CJ Walker will be on hand taking his second official visit after seeing Miami earlier this month. A five-star forward from Florida, Walker will take the cross-country flight, and it looks as if the Ducks have been picking up steam lately in his recruitment. Altman and his staff just completed an in-home visit with him last week, and the frenetic playing style and recent success of forwards in his mold at Oregon bodes well in potentially locking him down.
Walker will not be alone on Saturday as the Ducks will host five-star sophomore and the top in-state prospect, Nathan Bittle. Boogie Ellis was expected to also spend an official visit on Oregon this weekend, though things have been pushed back for later next month.
This is a big one for the Blue Devils, not just because Wendell Moore is a crucial target for the blueblood program, but also because of what transpired in recent weeks.
Duke has missed out on two of its top targets in the backcourt, as Bryan Antoine and Josiah James picked Villanova and Tennessee, respectively, forcing Coach K’s staff into a position that it has not been in during the past several years. It is still September, and not making a dent in the 2019 class should not create panic just yet, but Duke's recruiting board is a bit empty, which makes Moore’s services even more important.
The Blue Devils will likely need to replace Cam Reddish and RJ Barrett on the perimeter next fall, so Moore’s services would be put to quick use as a versatile guard-wing who can check many of the boxes. UNC and South Carolina remain involved, but Wake Forest and NC State should have a strong say here, too. Moore is not too far off from a decision as he remains a must-get for Duke.