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TwitterTuesday: Georgia Tech targets, UNC strategy, FIBA stars

Nassir Little
Nassir Little (Rivals.com)

Things are beginning to heat up on the commitment front as USC and the Big Ten Conference walked away winners from the last few days of June. In this week’s #TwitterTuesday, we assess the chances of Georgia Tech, Maryland, Wake Forest and UNC coming up big in the weeks ahead, investigate the top sleepers at the point guard position and the early standouts from the FIBA U-19 World Cup.

RELATED: Okora seeing recruitment heat up | Syracuse picks up 2018 commit

Josh Pastner had quite the breakthrough year at Georgia Tech and despite just missing out on the NCAA tournament, it would not be difficult to deem things a success. What must be done next is to build upon that wave of momentum and strike it big in the 2018 class. Luckily, there is ample talent within the region that the Yellow Jackets should have a good chance to sign.

Georgia Tech has put a lot of time into Nassir Little. The 6-foot-7 small forward has become a priority nationally as Kansas, Arizona and UCLA are the latest to offer. Landing someone like Little could change the entire complexion of the program and of Pastner’s tenure.

Little would be a fantastic addition, but even if Tech misses on him, it sits in a good spot with a few in-state guards. Drue Drinnon, a 6-foot-2 combo guard that played alongside five-star Collin Sexton last year at Pebblebrook High School, would be a nice pickup as he is someone that can play on and off the ball and really take over a game with his shooting abilities. Along with Drinnon is Will Richardson, a top-100 guard. Georgia, Auburn and Alabama have done a lot of work with the four-star guard, so landing him will not come easy.

Outside of Little, Drinnon and Richardson, Georgia Tech would love to add either Keyontae Johnson or Landers Nolley. The latter had a breakout junior season. The Yellow Jackets have made up ground with the shot-making wing, though Florida State may lead. Johnson, a 6-foot-4 scoring wing, may be the hardest Georgia Tech lean of any of the five, where his blue-collared approach and energy make him the perfect complement to Josh Okogie on the perimeter.

Maryland has hit it big during the 2018 recruiting cycle as it has picked up the commitments of two top-75 prospects in 6-foot-5 wing Aaron Wiggins and five-star center Jalen Smith. The next step for the Terps is going to the backcourt and nailing down the pledge of a lead guard.

Initially involved for five-star point guard Jahvon Quinerly, the Jersey native produced his final list of schools last month without the Terps being included. That was a gut punch of sorts, seeing that they had invested so much time in his recruitment. Maryland quickly changed its course of action and gave even more energy and attention to Devon Dotson.

Dotson is a 6-foot-2 lead guard that plays with Wiggins on the Team Charlotte 17-under team this summer. The two have talked affectionately about playing together in college. While this is far from a package deal, Maryland has made up a ton of ground with Dotson, a top-50 guard that is down to a final eight that includes the Terps along with Kansas, Florida, Arizona, Ohio State, USC, Wake Forest and Miami.

Kansas and Florida are the primary favorites for him but Maryland is now front and center as a potential landing spot for Dotson and with how things have been trending, I wouldn’t be one to bet against the Terps.

If they do come up short in the Dotson race, the Terps can turn to Elijah Weaver, a top-50 guard from Florida who has family in the region. Also, Eric Ayala is another avenue the Terps could head down.

Maryland did make the final four for five-star guard Immanuel Quickley, along with Miami, Kansas, and Kentucky, though UK is seen as the heavy favorite.

While there remains a debate over who the best point guard is in the 2018 class, there are a few others that are under the radar and can be deemed as sleepers. We take a look at my select five:

1. How could a 6-foot-3 lead guard that averaged over 15 points, four rebounds and four assists per game, while making over 42 percent of his perimeter jumper attempts, be deemed a sleeper? Well, if you looked at his recruitment, this would be the easy assessment. Michael DeVoe has had a tremendous spring with the Nike South Beach program and while he is finally beginning to rack up the offers that he deserves, compared to some of his contemporaries, things are far from comparable. Miami, Florida and UCF have done the most work with him as he will head to Montverde Academy this fall.

2. The face of the Expressions 17-under team this spring, Marcus Zegarowksi is beginning to receive his dues as he has recently picked up offers from Pitt, Seton Hall, Creighton and VCU. The younger brother of former Syracuse star Michael Carter-Williams has not been valued as much as he should be. Averaging over 14 points, three assists and three steals on the Nike circuit, Zegarowksi displays a handful of winning traits as he tracks as a four-year producer at the high major level.

3. Just like Zegarowksi, Logan Johnson exhibits NBA bloodlines as his older brother and travel team sponsor is Tyler Johnson. The 6-foot-2 guard is bouncy, skilled, intellectual and tough, though his offer list does not back this up entirely. Colorado is his only power conference offer, joining a bevy of other west coast programs in pursuit; by the end of July, most of the Pac-12 should be entirely on board.

4. He does boast over 20 scholarship offers, though just recently did Mac McClung see his recruitment hit the high-major level. Skilled, tough, versatile and a deceptively explosive athlete, the Team Loaded product nailed down Rutgers and Georgetown offers last month. He is hard to find playing for his Gate City High program, but this month, McClung could see his stock really soar playing on the adidas circuit with one of the top teams in their league.

5. Lastly, this wouldn’t be a sleeper column if we didn’t get the chance to make a prediction on a breakout player during the July evaluation periods. P.J. Byrd has good potential as passer in his class, is remarkably effective off of the high ball screen but is more than capable of hitting the 15-foot and out jump shot. He does have to become more consistent with his game, but playing alongside budding talents Morris Udeze and Miller Kopp with the Houston Defenders this summer, Byrd should receive more than enough evaluations in the weeks ahead.

I do understand that things have been a bit silent on the UNC recruiting front. Just like Duke and Kentucky, the Tar Heels are very selective, so you’re not going to be hearing about a plethora of offers being dished out weekly. Instead, North Carolina attempts to delve into each prospect to see if they fit the culture established in Chapel Hill.

With that all being said, things have been silent because North Carolina hit it big very early in the 2018 class. We are close to a year now that Coby White committed to UNC and even more than that with Rechon Black. Seeing that the ACC blueblood will only lose Theo Pinson and Joel Berry to graduation next spring and there is likely no early departures to the NBA, the Tar Heels are all about done for 2018.

They do remain in contention for top-50 forward Jairus Hamilton, battling others including Wake Forest and NC State. More importantly, if he were to narrow things down to a final five at this very moment, UNC would most likely be among the list for five-star forward Zion Williamson.

Throw in the fact that the Tar Heels are looking great with five-star 2019 forward Matthew Hurt, along with other in-state talents Josh Nickelberry, Wendell Moore and Joey Baker, and UNC sits in a fine position with some of the best in the 2019 class.

Sure, there has been talk about UNC’s misses of late, whether it is because of the academic issues still pressing the program, or the inability to close things out. However, this is the same program that jumped into the Cam Johnson race very late, went head-to-head with Kentucky, Arizona, Indiana, UCLA and Oregon, and was able to nail down the commitment of the top grad-transfer on the market this spring.

It seems as if James and Jake had the same idea in mind with Wake Forest and their recruitment of top-100 talents Isaiah Mucius and Jaylen Hoard.

Mucius, a four-star small forward that stands at 6-foot-7, is the type of wing that Danny Manning has come to value. Dating back to his first coaching gig at Tulsa, Manning has loved jumbo wings that can play a variety of spots, make shots and with the proper development program, turn into a building block type of talent. Mucius fits the mold and while his efficiency does have to improve, there are not many guys around with his size, length and upside. Wake Forest was his second scholarship offer and it has not backed off since then. However, others including Xavier, Oregon and more importantly, UConn, have remained in pursuit. Currently, Wake Forest is a top landing spot for him, though the Huskies may have the best chance.

While things are still on the fence with Mucius, I would much rather place my bets on Hoard. A 6-foot-7 power forward, Hoard is a versatile, talented prospect that could become a major asset at the high-major level. There has not been a ton of attention from the media given to Hoard. Attending the same high school as Wake sophomore guard Brandon Childress, Hoard is actually a native of France that moved to the U.S. last summer. While the Deacons missed on their top target from WCA two years ago, that being Duke one-and-done Harry Giles, this recruiting cycle may be the year that Manning and his staff enjoy their breakthrough and pick up the commitment of a top 50 player.

The FIBA U-19 World Cup is taking place in Cairo, Egypt this week and despite each team having played just two games up until this point, there still is a few prospects that are worth being highlighted.

Brandon McCoy and Hamidou Diallo have enjoyed fast starts for the Americans in their first two lopsided victories.

The first primetime recruit for Marvin Menzies at UNLV, McCoy is a skilled and long bodied center that chose the Rebels over Michigan State, San Diego State, Arizona and Oregon. He has fought through injuries and battles of inconsistency in the past, but in limited playing time thus far, McCoy has dominated whenever he has been on the floor. Sporting a top-10 efficiency rating while averaging 13 points and eight rebounds in less than 17 minutes of action, McCoy has the potential to be a one-and-done type of guy out in the desert.

Joining him on our all-FIBA team is Diallo, the primary scoring option for the red, white and blue. No one is ever going to question the New Yorker’s athleticism as he holds the second greatest vertical leap in NBA Draft Combine history, but it is more about Diallo’s shot-making skills from 15-feet and out. While he has made 65 percent of his shots thus far, the Kentucky Wildcat has knocked down just two 3s as most of his baskets have come at the rim. Playing for his future head coach, Diallo looks the part of the face of Kentucky basketball for next year.

Someone that John Calipari would love to have on his roster is RJ Barrett, the top ranked prospect in the 2019 class that is likely to reclassify into the 2018 class this summer. While the Canadian had a rough outing last time out as he made just three of his 15 shots from the field, he still was able to come up with five steals and six assists, displaying maturity in that whenever his shots aren’t falling, he can still remain a productive ballplayer.

Quite possibly the most productive big man in Egypt thus far, Silvio De Sousa has been a monster. While his Angola team was manhandled by the United States, the five-star center was not the reason why. Averaging over 18 points and 11 rebounds off of over 63 percent shooting from the field, De Sousa is a college-ready producer that is an emphatic finisher at the basket with an evolving face-up repertoire.

Lastly, it is Rui Hachimura finishing things up as the Japanese forward might be another significant find for the Gonzaga basketball program. While he played less than 130 minutes total during his freshman year, Hachimura has the chance to take up several of the minutes leftover by the departures of Przemek Karnowski and Zach Collins. More of a face-up oriented combo forward, Hachimura isn’t an explosive athlete but rather a skilled ballplayer that can attack closeouts with either hand, make shots out to 20-feet and also defend various positions. Built in the mold of Zags star forward Johnathan Williams, Hachimura’s college breakout could be traced back to his time in Egypt as he is averaging over 17 points, 11 rebounds and two assists per contest.

Others that just missed inclusion include Oregon-bound Abu Kigab (Canada), Auburn sophomore center Austin Wiley (United States), Miami forward Sam Waardenburg (New Zealand), potential Georgia Tech breakout wing Josh Okogie (United States), and future Stanford star wing Oscar da Silva (Germany).