basketball Edit

Orlando: James sets Duke visit; more updates

Josiah James
Josiah James

ORLANDO -- Orlando is back to being a major player in the travel hoops scene for the final recruiting period in July for college basketball coaches with the AAU Super Showcase at Disney’s Wide World of Sports and the first-year Zero Gravity Prime Event in town as well. We caught up with some trending prospects today for updates on their recruitments.

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JAMES TAKES WEEKEND OFF BUT STILL DRAWS A CROWD

Josiah James is taking this weekend off after the grind of the past two months on the court, but he’s continuing to progress towards an early decision.

“I cut my schools down to nine, so I’m still working with that list,” James said. “I’m setting up a lot of unofficial visits before I go on official visits to schools. I’ll probably cut it down to five before I take official visits and that will probably be mid-August. I know I’ll be at Duke on Aug 11 and 12.”

Along with Duke, James has Arizona, Clemson, Florida State, Kansas, Michigan State, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia remaining on his list. Despite not playing this weekend, he had Brad Brownell and Tom Izzo present for his game this morning along with an assistant from Kansas.

James shared his thoughts on some of the programs involved in his recruitment.

Duke: “It’s a really prestigious program, one of the best in the country every single year. It’d be an honor to play for a coach like Coach K.”

Michigan State: “It’s basically the same thing. Coach Izzo is a Hall of Fame coach as well. I definitely want to play for a coach like him.”

Clemson: “They are on the rise. Both in-state schools are, but Clemson just went to the Sweet 16. They want me to come in and be a leader, and I think I can do that for their program.”

South Carolina: “They are doing really well. They were in the Final Four two years ago, and that made a big impact on the state. Staying in-state is always something that is in the back of my mind that I might look for.”

Florida State: “I have really good relationship with Coach Stan Jones and Coach Leonard Hamilton. They’re just preaching they can improve my and they develop really good players because they’ve had a lot of guys like me. I think it’d be a great fit for me.”

WATTS WANTS TO SET VISITS, COMMIT EARLY

Earlier this month, Rocket Watts put out a list of his top eight schools. That list included Florida State, Louisville, Michigan, Michigan State, Missouri, Oregon, UConn and Xavier. There was just one problem with his list.

“I put out a top eight, but my parents weren’t involved in that so it was kind of an unofficial list,” Watts said. “I’m still going through the process and open to everybody.”

Watts said he plans to sit down with his parents soon and start setting visits. He wants to get his decision out of the way soon. He shared his thoughts on the two local programs, along with Chris Mack’s Louisville Cardinals.

Michigan: “I like their program. Coach (John) Beilein is a great coach. That’s a good school.”

Michigan State: “They have a Hall of Fame coach and they have a lot of guys from Detroit. They got a good program too.”

Louisville: “Chris Mack a great coach. He’s one of the coaches I like. He’s been on me since he was at Xavier.”

Mack, Tom Izzo, Leonard Hamilton and Danny Hurley were among the head coaches watching Watts on Thursday morning. Missouri, Michigan and Xavier had assistants on hand.

NORTH CAROLINA GETTING INVOLVED WITH RISING STAR MILLS

Coming into July, most high-major college coaches had Caleb Mills pegged as somebody they wanted to see more of before putting out a scholarship offer. After a strong first recruiting period in Atlanta at the Under Armour Challenge, those high-major coaches had their questions answered, and Mills subsequently received several offers.

Auburn, Clemson, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Kansas State, Marquette, Mississippi State, Pittsburgh, Providence, Wake Forest and Xavier are among his new offers so far during July. One other program appears to be entering the mix after sending its head coach to watch him last week, North Carolina.

“Coach Roy Williams came to my game twice last weekend,” Mills said. “He said he’s sending an assistant to my games this week to see if I was good enough to fit into their program. He doesn’t just throw out offers. He said that his assistant is someone he’s known for years, so [his assistant] coming down is like [Roy Williams] coming down.

“It’s a great program. They have one of the best coaches of all time. They are good every year.”

Mills hasn’t set any visits yet as he’s still sorting through all the new attention. Along with the schools that have come into the picture this month, Houston is still a contender as the Cougars were in on Mills a couple months ago. He’s planning to have a decision out of the way before his senior season.

Brad Brownell, Travis Steele, and Kevin Keatts along with assistants from North Carolina, Cincinnati, Houston, Virginia, Georgia and Georgia Tech watched Mills on Thursday night.

COACH WATCH

* John Calipari made the trip to Orlando on Thursday to get a look at Terrence Clarke, a 6-foot-7 ridiculously talented small forward in the 2021 class for Expressions.

* Along with being there to see Watts, it’s safe to assume Izzo, Mack, Hurley, Hamilton and Archie Miller were all tracking Isaiah Jackson for The Family as were assistants from Syracuse, Michigan, Xavier, and Iowa State.

* Syracuse had an assistant keeping tabs on four-star commitment Brycen Goodine, who is one of the better pure scorers in Orlando this week.

* Virginia coach Tony Bennett snuck into Orlando on Thursday to see Phenom University’s standout underclassmen, Jalen Johnson and Patrick Baldwin Jr. from his old stomping grounds in Wisconsin. UCF coach Johnny Dawkins was also courtside for this one to see Omar Payne of CP25.