Three-Point Play: Duke-North Carolina battle; first-year coaches
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In today's Three-Point Play, sophomore guard Cam Hayes looks to be the next in-state prospect to pin Duke and UNC together in a recruiting battle. Plus, the tremendous first-year coaching jobs across the nation and Gonzaga College High School’s championship run.
1. THE NEXT DUKE-NORTH CAROLINA RECRUITING BATTLE
For as heated as their rivalry is on the court, Duke and North Carolina rarely go head-to-head against each other for an in-state prospect. It's happened before (e.g. Brandon Ingram and Wendell Moore) but it's far from a yearly occurrence, which makes the recruitment of five-star sophomore Cam Hayes that much more intriguing.
A top-20 prospect in the 2021 class, Hayes has not been short on college interest. He has recently taken visits to Duke, NC State, Tennessee and Virginia, and will take another trip to North Carolina - his second in three weeks - on Saturday.
While the Wolfpack, Volunteers and Cavaliers remain stronger contenders, Duke and North Carolina appear to have picked things up with him.
Hayes' ability to reclassify into the 2020 class adds another layer to his recruitment. If the Tar Heels land Cole Anthony, would they push for Hayes' commitment and then reclassification? If the Blue Devils lose Tre Jones to the NBA Draft, would they pick things up with R.J. Hampton and attempt to reclassify, thus leading to a similar strategy with Hayes? Or, does a dark horse like NC State sneak its way into the mix and snag Hayes’ commitment?
There's still a lot that has to play out in the coming months, but Hayes' recruitment will definitely be one to watch as we go deeper into 2019.
2. THREE UNDER-APPRECIATED FIRST-YEAR COACHES
The 2018 coaching class is tracking as one of the best in recent years. Things are trending up at Louisville, Memphis, Pitt and UConn, and just as fellow analyst Eric Bossi outlined Monday with the first-year coaching jobs by Craig Smith and Darian DeVries at Utah State and Drake, respectively, there is hope at places that didn’t have much this time last year.
However, there are three other first-year coaches that also deserve some praise:
Jared Grasso, Bryant - Grasso has taken his first head coaching job and run away with it. Bryant has already won 10 games after winning just three last year and earned a spot in the NEC Conference Tournament after missing the cut last season. The Bulldogs also have a solid recruiting class that should only raise the program’s ceiling.
Jeremy Ballard, FIU - Ballard has FIU enjoying its second winning season since 2000 and the Panthers have already secured the most single-season C-USA wins in program history. Three more wins and they set the school’s record for most wins in a single season.
Dana Ford, Missouri State - Ford worked his way up the coaching ladder and now has his Missouri State team in position to make a run at the Missouri Valley Conference’s automatic bid. His success with the Bears' 2019 recruiting class should come as no surprise as Ford played a big role in recruiting Fred Van Vleet, Paris Lee and Robert Covington at his previous coaching stops.
3. GONZAGA COLLEGE MAKES ITS MARK
No city in America boasts better high school basketball than Washington, D.C., and it's hard to find a better collection of talent in our nation's capital than in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference.
The WCAC title this year went to Gonzaga College High School, as head coach Steve Turner has helped mold that program into one of the best in the country. The Eagles have produced Penn State’s Myles Dread, Miami’s Chris Lykes and Notre Dame’s Prentiss Hubb and more future college standouts are on the way.
Gonzaga starts three Rivals150 standouts. Myles Stute has risen up the rankings in recent months thanks to his toughness and frontcourt versatility. Chuck Harris is an underrated gem at the lead guard spot that Butler and George Washington have already come to covet. Finally, Terrance Williams is the ultimate shot-maker that has taken official visits to Stanford and Virginia.
Beyond those three headliners, the play of Anwar Gill has drawn rave reviews from coaches. A utility knife that can score, pass, defend and rebound, Gill is tracking as one of the top remaining wing prospects available on the East Coast this winter. Loyola (Maryland), Robert Morris and Siena are among the group that have offered but more are on the way. He has yet to take an official visit and it says here that Gill’s recruitment is just beginning and that he will play a major part in helping a program reap success next season.