McDonald's Nuggets: Dishing on June recruiting, NBA Draft, more
Dan McDonald is back with his weekend primer, McDonald's Nuggets. This week’s edition includes thoughts on the new June recruiting weekends, the NBA Draft and more.
WHAT’S ON MY MIND: New recruiting periods coming up
If you follow college basketball recruiting closely, you have heard about the changes to the recruiting calendar put into effect for this cycle. One of the big changes was adding two weekends at the end of June for college coaches to evaluate prospects, either with their high school teams in a team camp or at an individual camp. Those two weekends are this weekend (June 21-23) and next weekend (June 28-30).
Of all the changes made to the recruiting calendar, the team camp is the one I like most. I think there is a lot of good that can come from seeing prospects in this setting with their high school team as opposed to only with their travel team - in a lot of cases. Most prospects will be one of many talented prospects on their travel team, but the top player on their high school team. So, seeing how they operate in both settings is very useful.
Your favorite team’s coaching staff will likely be out in full force this weekend evaluating prospects, and you will probably see a ton of new scholarship offers going out. It will be a little tricky for some staffs because these camps are being run by state associations with no overlap. Some state associations chose not to run one. However, given these will be going on in the majority of states, coaches will have to prioritize where they go, based on where their targets are. Pay close attention to where your favorite team’s coach pops up, because that’s a pretty good indicator of a prospect it is prioritizing at this point.
PREDICTION: Hawks will look back fondly on this NBA Draft
When we look back at this NBA Draft years from now, we’ll look at it being a very good night for the Atlanta Hawks. The trade up for De'Andre Hunter was a great move. He’s made noticeable improvements to his game every year since I started tracking him going into his junior year of high school. He improved in all key statistics from his freshman year to his sophomore year at Virginia. At 6-foot-7 with a 7-foot wingspan along and a 3-point stroke that went down at about 44 percent clip last season, I really like his long-term upside.
The Hawks also added Cam Reddish with the 10th overall pick as another wing with a ton of upside on both ends of the court. Outside of the teams in the top three, no team should feel as good as the Hawks coming out of this draft.
There were a few picks outside the lottery that I’m really high on. I love Orlando having the stones to take Chuma Okeke at 16 despite his torn ACL back in March. He’s always been incredibly productive and really versatile. He fits the NBA game perfectly. Matisse Thybulle at 20th overall is a great pick for the 76ers. Just about every draft gives us a steal in the 20s, and I think Thybulle is that guy in this one because of his elite defensive ability and I’m betting on him becoming a good offensive player, too.
Lastly, we are just a year removed from Nassir Little being considered a lock to be a top 5 pick. The Blazers selected him at No. 25. I don’t know if he’ll hit or not, but that feels like great value and a great bet by the Portland front office.
RECRUITING NOTE: D.J. Gordon becoming a popular target
I spoke with D.J. Gordon earlier this week for an update on his recruitment. The full story will come out in the next few days, but it sounds like his recruitment has really heated up in the last couple months. He mentioned Arizona State, Cincinnati, Florida, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, Notre Dame, Penn State, Pittsburgh, Providence, VCU and Virginia as some of the schools with whom he has been in contact. The five schools I came away thinking are doing the most work and sitting in the best spot are Cincinnati, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Pittsburgh and Providence. He just spent some time on Pittsburgh’s campus this week and mentioned plans to see the other schools for official visits in the not-too-distant future.
COMMITMENT(S) OF THE WEEK: Virginia Tech strikes twice
Mike Young and his staff have done a nice job on the recruiting trail in the few months since taking over at Virginia Tech. The Hokies lost a ton off last year’s roster and inherited no prospects in the 2019 class, so their work was cut out for them.
This week, Virginia Tech added commitments from shooting guard Nahiem Alleyne and big man John Ojiako. Those two join four-star point guard Jalen Cone and three-star guard Hunter Catoor, who originally signed with Young at Wofford. It’s not a star-studded class headed to Blacksburg, but it’s a class full of good players who can lay a solid foundation going forward.