The college basketball season reached its pinnacle Monday night as UNC beat Gonzaga for the national title. At the same time, many others have already placed their attention to the transfer market and the 2018 recruiting cycle.
In this week’s #TwitterTuesday feature, we address the top transfers this spring, what might be in the cards for top 50 guard Makai Ashton-Langford and more.
1. Elijah Brown: Brown, who began his career at Butler before transferring to New Mexico, might be the most coveted of transfers this spring. He is someone that has already graduated and can play immediately next year. Expect the entire Pac-12 to hastily pursue the 6-foot-4 scoring guard as his father, Mike, is an assistant coach for the Golden State Warriors.
2. Cameron Johnson: A 6-foot-8, late-blooming combo forward that would have been atop opponents' scouting reports facing Pitt next season, Johnson will graduate this spring and become immediately eligible to play in the winter with two years to play. Johnson is someone who can become an NBA prospect with a solid junior campaign, and the entire East Coast will be interested thanks to Johnson's versatility and shot making abilities.
3. Marcus Evans: The most productive transfer this spring, Evans, a native of Virginia Beach, Va., has already been named as a first-team Conference USA member twice. Mike Rhoades, who left Rice to take the VCU head coaching job, will do his best to bring his former star with him, but a litany of other high-majors will do their best to land the 20-point-per-game scorer from last year.
4. Noah Dickerson: Playing with the potential No. 1 pick in this year’s NBA Draft, guard Markelle Fultz, Dickerson did a lot of positive things for Washington this past season. A well-built and strong-bodied center that rebounds the ball and can finish in traffic, Dickerson will likely return to the East Coast with a bevy of top-flight programs chasing after him. He will have two years of eligibility remaining after he sits out next year.
5. Egor Koulechov: A teammate of Evans’ at Rice this past year, Koulechov is a versatile forward who scores with efficiency, but also can rebound in volumes. A native of Russia, Koulechov is immediately eligible having graduated from Rice, which makes the 18-point and eight-rebound-per-game forward a major commodity.
It hasn’t been the best offseason for UConn fans. The program has already seen its associate head coach leave the staff and Juwan Durham, a top-50 prospect out of the 2016 class, transfer. Also, Makai Ashton-Langford, a top-50 guard out of the 2017 class, asked for his release. While there still is more than enough talent in Storrs, and the hiring of assistant Raphael Chillious is a major coup, the 2018 class is of the utmost importance.
The 2018 class isn’t a great one, but it is a group that is pretty solid within the New England region. The Huskies sit in a good spot with A.J. Reeves, a top-50 wing from the area that would be a fine addition. It would seem as if he is the most likely commitment at this time. His travel teammate, David Duke, is also on the Huskies’ recruiting board along with other perimeter weapons including Elijah Weaver, Jalen Carey, Eric Ayala and David Singleton, each a member of the top-100 within the 2018 rankings. In the frontcourt UConn has the proper foundation in the recruitments of Sid Wilson, Cameron Reddish, Nate Roberts and Moses Brown. Wilson and Roberts might be the more likely of options at the time being.
Matt brings us to the situation surrounding Lavar Batts, a top-100 guard who originally signed with VCU before opening his recruitment after a coaching change. This past weekend Batts committed to N.C. State, giving Kevin Keatts a tremendous start to his tenure in Raleigh. VCU now must go back to the drawing board and land a point guard capable of coming in - someone that can play within their pressing style.
One name to keep tabs on is Jamari Wheeler. A former Duquesne signee, the Florida native also asked for his release following the firing of Jim Ferry. His stock has soared this past week, as he has brought in over eight offers from the likes of Auburn, South Florida and VCU. He is a tough competitor that would do well under Mike Rhoades’ watch. Outside of Wheeler, Marcus Evans remains a must as the Rice transfer is one of the top guys on the market, as we touched on earlier. The fact that he played for Rhoades for two years and is from the Virginia Beach area doesn’t hurt their chances.
Makai Ashton-Langford, a high four-star guard out of the New England region, backed off his commitment to UConn, asking the Huskies' staff for his release.
Now back on the market, Ashton-Langford becomes one of the top available prospects in the 2017 class. Before Ashton-Langford committed to UConn in the fall, others such as Syracuse, Kansas and Louisville were in the hunt. Each has landed a guard since then, though KU has remained in pursuit of point guards this spring; it would likely ramp attention back up with the Brewster Academy guard. Syracuse could do just the same, and Duke could follow suit.
However, for the Providence fans out there, it would seem like Ed Cooley’s program might be the likely landing spot for Ashton-Langford. The Friars were in his final two the first time around, and given that they would absolutely love to add a point guard this spring and already developed rapport with Ashton-Langford and his camp, it looks like they are in strong position here for the top-50 guard.
Marques Bolden, a five-star and top-ranked big man from the 2016 class, is coming off a rather disappointing freshman season. Bolden, outside of Harry Giles, was the most talented frontline guy on the Blue Devils' roster. Beginning the season with a leg injury, things never really took off for him. He did battle through bouts of inconsistency throughout his high school career so it was not as if Duke was getting a guy that had consistently dominated. Rather, it was more about the upside and what could be with Bolden – when he was playing well, he looked like an NBA lottery pick. There was speculation that Bolden would be transferring but all of that was cleared up on Monday as he stated that he would be returning to Durham.
Touching back on the Mo Bamba front, Duke remains a viable landing spot for the New York native. A five-star center is down to the Blue Devils, Texas, Michigan and Kentucky. It would be hard to place Duke ahead of either Texas or Kentucky and as it sounds in recent weeks, the Longhorns may be the leader.