Evans Seven: The first phone call top teams should make on June 15
June 15 is a day that many rising junior prospects look forward to. It is the date college coaches can directly contact them and, for some, it signals a starting point to their recruitment. In today’s Evans Seven, we predict the prospects who will be receiving phone calls from some the biggest names in the coaching industry once the clock strikes midnight.
The Blue Devils have already gotten a leg up in the 2020 class, thanks to the commitment of Jeremy Roach and their next priority is 2020 top 5 small forward Jalen Johnson. The Milwaukee native has put together a tremendous showing on the Nike EYBL circuit this spring and created a dynamic duo alongside five-star rising junior Patrick Baldwin Jr. The small forward has received his fair share of Klay Thompson comparisons, and while they may or may not be appropriate, those comparisons reflect his talent level and shot-making prowess.
Baldwin already holds a Duke offer but there is some underlying dynamics in his recruitment because his father, Pat Baldwin Sr., is currently the head coach at Milwaukee. Regardless, Baldwin is already heavily on Coach K’s radar, a lofty proposition for many underclassmen, and Saturday will just be another day that Duke professes its intent to recruit him.
Kentucky has become known for its standout guard play throughout the years, as John Wall, Devin Booker and Malik Monk are just a few that come to mind. In the 2021 class, Terrence Clarke makes his presence known whenever discussing ready-made, elite scoring prospects. Clarke has set the nets on fire this spring on the Nike EYBL circuit, averaging over 17 points per game while showing the propensity to demolish whatever type of defense he sees.
Clarke already holds a UK offer and will be a priority for the Wildcats in the coming months. There is a chance that he could reclassify into the 2020 class but, either way, Saturday will be another moment that John Calipari addresses his hopes of having Clarke in a Kentucky Wildcats jersey.
Now that it can focus a greater amount of attention on the upcoming classes, look for their interest in J.T. Thor to soar. The five-star rising junior is a big fan of the Kansas program, and earlier this year he was on campus for a two-day unofficial visit. The Jayhawks have had great success in players of Thor’s ilk, those who can play a variety of positions in the frontcourt and make shots to the perimeter. Thor’s stock has really taken off in recent weeks and while he could potentially reclassify into the 2020 class, the Jayhawks will remain a steady presence in his recruitment as direct contact between the coaches and Thor will now be allowed.
4. NORTH CAROLINA
North Carolina has become known for prioritizing the best in its state early in the process, which often leads to a quick commitment, prime examples being Coby White and Leaky Black. While there is still more work to be done in regards to the Tar Heels' pursuit of five-star sophomore Cam Hayes, if they were to offer they would immediately become the favorite in his recruitment (if they are not already).
The Tar Heels have shown heavy interest in him throughout the winter months and Hayes reciprocated his feelings for the blueblood by visiting the Chapel Hill campus twice. What adds more fuel to the fire is that UNC has yet to gain much traction in the upper crust of the 2020 point guard crop, and it will likely need to replace five-star Cole Anthony after his one-and-done campaign next season. Fortunately, Hayes could opt back into his original 2020 class, so expect UNC to pursue him hastily and use Saturday as another building block.
Jabari Smith was a giant mover in the recently updated 2021 Rivals150 as he jumped all of the way into the fifth spot after sitting at 33rd overall. The move was well-warranted, thanks to his physical attributes, bloodlines, work ethic and improved state of production. No longer is Smith just a prospect but rather a valuable and versatile player on any team that he plays for, such as the United States under-16 team that just took home gold earlier this week.
Memphis has yet to offer Smith, but there are some connections between him and the program. Assistant coach Mike Miller competed against Smith’s father, Jabari Smith Sr., when the two battled it out in the SEC during their playing days. Memphis has already shown that it can defeat the best for the commitment of an elite-level recruit, something that it will have to do in order to receive Smith’s pledge. Saturday is another day toward the Tigers piecing together another tremendous class.
The Bruins have not done much along the recruiting trail since the hiring of Mick Cronin, outside of reaffirming the commitments of the 2019 class that Steve Alford and his staff had in place. Rather, their intentions have been set on creating the proper in-roads with many of the younger top West Coast prospects who will be needed if UCLA wants to make a move within the Pac-12 and the national pecking order.
One of those young prospects is Jaden Hardy, a native of Detroit that moved to Las Vegas to begin his high school career last year. The sixth-ranked sophomore is a diverse scorer who has already made a major name for himself on the Nike EYBL circuit this spring, averaging over 20 points per contest. During the same time frame, Hardy was able to lure a Bruins offer, and just last week he visited the Westwood campus. Expect Cronin to be on the phone with Hardy on Saturday.
Archie Miller has hit the mark whenever it comes to landing the best that his state has to provide. Miller is hoping Khristian Lander might be the next to do as such. The top-30 guard already holds an Indiana offer and expect for the Hoosiers’ interest in him to only pick up from here. Lander has visited the Bloomington campus in recent months, but securing his commitment will not come easy. A bevy of regional powers along with Kansas and Kentucky are involved. However, it would come as no surprise if Miller was the first to get on the phone with the rising junior in communicating his hopes of getting Lander in an IU jersey.