It's been a crazy few months for Owasso (Okla.) guard Shake Milton. Prior to the start of the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League (EYBL), very little was known about him. A few months later, the 6-foot-5 combo guard holds scholarship offers from schools all over the country and is expected to make his debut in the 2015 Rivals150 as a four-star prospect in the next update.
Milton says a combination of factors helped him emerge as a legitimate high-major prospect.
"I feel like I've been working really hard, and I just think it was a matter in the right place at the right time and playing well in front of the right people," Milton said. "I think my shooting, my scoring, and my defense have gotten a lot better. I think I made a pretty big jump during the EYBL. I think it was just the style we played with MOKAN and the confidence that I built up. It's also easier playing with better players."
Milton's elevated level of play led to his MOKAN Elite team finishing 11-5 in EYBL play, which tied for first place in their division and earned them an invitation to play in the EYBL Finals at the Peach Jam.
"We've played well so far. I think I played pretty well. There are always things you can improve on, but as far as making an impression and solidify myself as one of the best, I think I did pretty well."
The recruiting process has really heated up for Milton with his recent play. Along with having scholarship offers from several top schools, he has some traditional powerhouses in contact with him as well.
"Lately, I've been talking to Indiana, Baylor, UCLA, Kansas and Texas a lot. Indiana is the only of those that offered. I have offers from Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Creighton, Tulsa, SMU, Texas A&M, Wichita State, Wake Forest and Houston."
Both high-major in-state schools, along with Wichita State, have received visits from Milton. He has two more visits coming up in the near future.
"I haven't been anywhere this year, but last year I went to Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Wichita State for unofficial visits. In June, I know I'm going to Indiana and I'll probably go to Baylor in August. Those will both be unofficial too."
Since offering not too long ago, Indiana head coach Tom Crean has built a strong relationship with Milton.
"Coach Crean has definitely been building Indiana back up to where they should be, and that's a powerhouse school that competes for national titles. Me and Coach Crean have built up a great relationship and I like the way things are going over there."
Milton says Baylor's coaching staff has done a great job selling their vision of where they see their program going in the future.
"I like Baylor a lot. I like the way they handle themselves and I like how the coaches talk to me about what their visions are and how they think can compete for Big 12 and national titles as well. I like the way they compete."
Oklahoma offered Milton a scholarship long before any other high-major. That fact is not lost on Milton.
"I love the Sooners. That's probably the coaching staff I've had a relationship with the longest. Coach [Lon] Kruger and Coach [Chris] Crutchfield over there have been there from day one. I love the loyalty they have. Their campus is nice and they have really good academics as well. I like that about them."
The way Oklahoma State used Marcus Smarty during his two years playing for the Cowboys certainly caught Milton's attention as he sees himself playing a similar style.
"I like the Cowboys a lot. Coach [Travis] Ford is doing great things over there. They are making Oklahoma State well-known now where they are competing at a high level. They haven't talked to me about playing like Marcus Smart, but just the way he's a bigger point guard that plays in the paint and he's a stat sheet stuffer, that's how I like to play. He's bigger and more athletic than I am though."
Wichita State has become well-known for possessing a great home court advantage. Milton had the opportunity to see the Shocker fans at the top of their game during a recent unofficial visit.
"I went to Wichita State for a game this past season. It was crazy. Their fans are definitely down for whatever. They are so loud. The crowd was really packed out. "
Kansas and UCLA have yet to offer Milton, but both could be major players in his recruitment if they were to decide to extend a scholarship offer later this summer.
"Kansas itself, that's big time. Coach [Bill] Self has proved consistently that they are not just one of the best teams in their conference but in the nation. They have won like the last ten or so Big 12 championships. That just speaks for itself."
"I love UCLA a lot. I like Cali a lot, so that's a bonus. Coach [Steve] Alford and his staff are definitely building UCLA back up to where they should be and that's competing for national championships. It would be pretty cool to play there."
Once his last season on the travel circuit is completed, Milton doesn't plan on waiting too long before coming to a decision on where he'll play college basketball.
"After July, my mom and I are going to sit down and talk about which schools I'm really serious about and where I'm going to take official visits. I'm not going to drag it out. I'm going to sign during the early period. The only thing that matters to me really is the relationship the coaches have with the players and the style of play they have. I also want to have a fair shot to come and earn some playing time early."
Dan McDonald is a contributing national basketball recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. You can click here to follow him on Twitter.
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