basketball Edit

Twitter Tuesday: Ramey, Hinton, Bruins, Yellow Jackets, more

Courtney Ramey
Courtney Ramey (Patrick Clark / Athlete's Eye Photography)

The spring evaluation periods are just days away as college coaches will be scouring the nation, getting another viewing of their top targets from the upcoming graduating classes. In this week’s #TwitterTuesday, we take a dive into the coaching situation at UCLA, the recruitment of Blake Hinson and just what is going on with Courtney Ramey.

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The recruitment of Courtney Ramey has continued to seep into the spring as things are only heating up. We broke the news on Monday that he would host three full coaching staffs this week for in-home visits, being those from Texas, Missouri and Louisville ...

The Cardinals’ inclusion surprised many as head coach Chris Mack had discussed in recent weeks that they were not going to pursue, though getting the chance to throw out their pitch to the Ramey household and their willingness to listen means that Louisville could be a legitimate contender.

No scheduled official visits have been made as of now and as the late signing period continues, might Ramey be ready to make his college decision by the end of the month? Earlier this month, Ramey published a final 10, a group that included SMU, Oklahoma, Texas, Illinois, Oregon, Ohio State, Missouri, Oklahoma State, Minnesota and South Carolina. Since then, OU, Illinois, OSU, Missouri and USC have taken guard commitments, though all remain in contention.

The race for Ramey remains and while nothing is planned beyond the three in-home visits this week, Oklahoma State and Texas are the lone programs to have hosted Ramey for an official visit, two trips that occurred in December. Louisville did hold his verbal pledge dating back to the prior regime at the ACC program as Ramey is already familiar with what the school can offer. It is truly a guessing game at this point.

News came down on Saturday that UCLA assistant coach David Grace had been let go of his position in Westwood. Grace is respected as one of the top West Coast recruiters and his dismissal is a bit perplexing. The onus is now on Steve Alford to show that he and the rest of his staff can recruit talent to the Pac-12 program. Is the program good enough to sell itself? It will always lure some of the top prospects to campus but UCLA fans clamor for elite recruits, the type of prospects that need to be recruited by the better assistants such as Grace, someone who was the lead for luring Jaylen Hands, Jalen Hill, TJ Leaf and Ike Anigbogu to the program.

Replacing Grace is Murray Bartow, someone who has been the head coach of three programs in recent years and has taken four teams to the NCAA Tournament. He comes to Westwood after sitting out last season; beforehand, he completed the 2017 season as the interim head coach at South Florida. Bartow has a plethora of East Coast and Southeast ties as it will be intriguing to see if Alford uses the UCLA national brand to recruit prospects from such talent-rich states as Florida, Georgia and surrounding areas.

In the 2018 class, the Bruins sit with a top-five group nationally; in 2017, the Bruins landed two five-star prospects; the year before that, it was Lonzo Ball and three other five-star recruits. Even Ben Howland’s last year at UCLA, they captured the commitments of two five-star prospects. The list goes on dating back to the beginning of the Rivals’ era in 2003, as Trevor Ariza signed with the program, reflecting that, for the most part, the brand sells itself thanks to the pedigree, locale and the number of current and former players that have gone to star at the NBA level.

However, ace recruiters are always a must; it doesn’t matter if you’re UNC, Duke, Indiana, Kentucky or UCLA. Kentucky is the bluest of bluebloods but even it saw recruiting hit a wall during the Billy Gillispie days. The Bruins have had one of the greatest runs on the recruiting front in recent years, whether it was during the Howland days, or now throughout the Alford era, but who they employ is vital. The name brand of the program will always resonate but in order to land the elite of the elite, a supreme staff is a must. What the Bruins do next on the recruiting front is intriguing to say the least.

Georgia Tech took a step back this past year, the second season of the Josh Pastner era in Atlanta. All eyes are on what Pastner will do with his staff this spring and what could come of it on the recruiting front. The Yellow Jackets will lose Josh Okogie early to the NBA Draft where coming up big in the 2019 class is a must.

Let’s not understate the success that Pastner has had thus far. In the 2017 class, Pastner poached Rivals150 guard Jose Alvarado out of New York and beat out a slew of high-major programs for shot maker Curtis Haywood. In the 2018 class, Georgia Tech nabbed top-50 guard Mike DeVoe but for Tech fans, guys like DeVoe need to become the norm, not the type of recruit that is celebrated as the best within years.

Pastner may make two potential assistant coaching hires in the coming days thanks to the resignation of one of his assistants and another taking a head coaching gig. These two spots are vital to who might be in a Yellow Jackets uniform in the upcoming years.

They have laid down a ton of groundwork with Marcus Watson, a top-50 small forward that would be a major score for the program. The questions will be if they can keep some of the other top talent from the 2019 class close to home. Those in mind include Kyle Sturdivant, Charles Smith IV, Jaylin Williams, Daniel Ramsey and Isaac Okoro.

Tom Crean is going to do his best to lock down the state at Georgia so the right hire is crucial for Pastner this spring. He must bring in an ace recruiter with strong ties throughout the Peach State and Southeast.

Blake Hinson took a non-circuitous route with his college recruitment as he began things as a highly touted football prospect in Deltona, Fla., transferred into Sunrise Christian Academy last fall, and decided to reclassify into the 2018 class this spring. Things have picked up steam with Hinson as he has already taken an official visit to Ole Miss and is currently on an official visit to Seton Hall.

A 6-foot-7 forward that can play the three or the four, Hinson has done a great job of revamping his frame while remaining a hard-playing forward that can make shots. Newly named Ole Miss head coach Kermit Davis would love to add Hinson to his roster for next season but the competition for him remains stiff.

Illinois was in play for Hinson but word of late is that he will not visit there. The Pirates are doing their best to intrigue Hinson on his chances at the Big East program and Washington State should get the next chance with the Rivals150 prospect. A handful of others remain in the mix, too, as Hinson would have two other official visits to take at his disposal, per NCAA regulations.

Look for a commitment from Hinson following his visits as early as next month where Ole Miss, Seton Hall and Washington State may have a leg up on the competition at the current moment.