TwitterTuesday: Latest on McCormack; UCLA's dilemma; Washington's future
We are now just two weeks from the always vital July evaluation periods as we bring to light the class of 2018. In this week’s #TwitterTuesday, we answer questions from Twitter on the recruitment of top-50 center David McCormack, UCLA’s point guard dilemma and what’s in store at Washington.
One of the top centers in the 2018 class, McCormack has seen his recruitment turn into a blueblood affair this spring. Due to the dearth of quality centers in his class and how much better McCormack has gotten, practically every program in America has dished out an offer to him.
The question becomes who are the legit suitors for McCormack? Oklahoma State recently hired David Kontaxis, a one-time assistant at James Madison who has ties to the Team Loaded travel program, the program that McCormack has played for the past three years.
McCormack took an unofficial visit to Oklahoma State last week as the Cowboys are definitely in a good spot for him. However, this is far from a finished deal as Duke, Virginia Tech, Virginia, Louisville, Kansas and a slew of others remain involved.
During his time at the NBPA Top-100 Camp last week, McCormack said there was still some time to go before he could even trim his list down. Do not expect any sort of commitment from McCormack until the fall. While the hiring of Kontaxis has placed Oklahoma State on solid ground, the top-50 big man’s commitment is not set in stone.
UCLA just had one of the best turnarounds in recent years thanks to the influx of talent from the 2016 class, but most of all, the transcendent abilities from Lonzo Ball. Now that Ball has departed to the NBA, could Jaylen Hands be the next one-and-done point guard at UCLA?
Arlin brings up what is in store for UCLA within the 2018 recruiting cycle. It would love to add Bol Bol, Marvin Bagley III, Jordan Brown or Gerald Liddell, but the primary question here is what the Bruins do at the lead guard spot.
They have remained heavily invested in finding their next star in the backcourt and seeing that Aaron Holiday could opt for the NBA after his junior year, landing a perimeter weapon is a must. While the chances of Hands leaving after this year are up in the air, UCLA must be proactive.
Another issue throw into the mix is the fact that La’Melo Ball will be enrolling in Westwood in the fall of 2019 as he will likely be given the ball straight out of the gates. Does UCLA land another point guard prospect in 2018 in replacing Hands, or not push the button so that it can be ready to give Ball all of the minutes at the lead guard spot, similar to how things played out this past year with his oldest brother?
That is up for debate, but if UCLA does decide to go the 2018 point guard route, it already sits firmly entrenched in the recruitments of Jahvon Quinerly, Javonte Smart, Elijah Weaver and Tre Jones. The Bruins remain among the top five or six for each top-50 guard, though they cannot be perceived as a leader for any. Villanova, Virginia and Arizona sit in a good spot for Quinerly, Smart may be an LSU lean, Weaver is nowhere near a college commitment, though Ohio State, Florida, Oklahoma State, Virginia and Villanova are a more likelier landing spot than UCLA. And Jones, for all the work that the Bruins have done, could end up at Duke.
It would be a difficult pill to swallow if the Bruins were to miss out on each point guard, but landing a scoring weapon such as Kevin Porter, Bryce Hamilton or Jules Bernard, may be the route they take. There is a risk that Hands might leave in just one year and without another primary guard to lean on, it could place the Bruins into the same position that Duke was in this past season: a team full of elite talent but one missing a floor-setting point guard.
Ryan asks a two-pronged question here about the short-term future of Washington as it is coming off the commitment of Hameir Wright, a one-time lean to reclassify into the 2018 class that decided to commit to UW over the weekend and attend college in the fall.
Replacing Lorenzo Romar this spring, Mike Hopkins has leaned on his Northeast ties in landing the commitments of Wright and forward Nahziah Carter. While neither of the two is Michael Porter Jr., a one-time commit to the program and the best player in the 2017 class that flipped to Missouri, Hopkins has done a commendable job of adding more talent to the cupboard in Seattle.
The upcoming season will be a year of establishing the culture at Washington. Competing for the Pac-12 crown seems out of reach. However, there is enough young talent to build upon that Hopkins should be able to get the Huskies back onto solid footing in competing with some of the best on the West Coast for prospects and on the hardwood.
Hopkins has already proven that he can make quick work on the recruiting trail as he landed the commitments of two prospects 3,000 miles away from campus. This summer, the Huskies will be heavily tracking local products Kevin Porter, and Nic Lynch, regional prospects Jamal Bey, Kamaka Hepa, and Bryan Penn-Johnson, along with recruits out east including Xavier Johnson, Marcus Zegarowksi and Frankie Policelli.
If Hopkins and his staff can use its first full year continuing to make the proper connections within the Pacific Northwest but also keep his New England ties, UW may then have the chance to not only get back to .500, but also receive its first bid to the NCAA Tournament since 2011.
Iowa State will have giant shoes to fill next season thanks to the graduation of Monte Morris, its star lead guard who taken in last week’s NBA Draft. Thankfully for Steve Prohm, the Cyclones will welcome Lindell Wigginton to campus, a five-star 2017 guard that will likely be one of the more productive freshmen nationally next year.
While Wigginton is more than capable of running the team at the one, ISU will need to find more of a facilitating option in the 2018 class. It will also lose Donovan Jackson to graduation, but it has made great strides in recent weeks with some of the top point guard prospects throughout their region.
Tyler Harris is the most talked about name with ISU as the 5-foot-9 lead guard is a quick and fiery competitor that loves to push the pace. The issue is that he is more of a scoring primary guard, though his fearlessness and consistency remains a strong suit as he continues to develop into a playmaker; Wichita State, Ole Miss and ISU remain the likely landing spots for him.
AJ Green, a top-100 guard in the 2018 class, visited Ames earlier this month and the Cyclones sit firmly in the mix for him. However, Green’s father, Kyle, is an assistant on staff at Northern Iowa. A commitment to anyone but UNI would be a bit of surprise.
If either were to commit to Iowa State, it would more than likely be Harris, a guard that could team up with Wigginton and create a dynamic and super competitive backcourt for years to come.
Rhode Island enters the year as one of the favorites again to win the Atlantic-10, but the 2018 class looms as an important one thanks to the pending graduations of Jared Terrell, EC Matthews, Stanford Robinson and Jarvis Garrett, a group that put the program back into the upper-echelon of the conference.
Despite some recent coaching staff turnover at URI, the Rams have put themselves in a solid spot for the some of the better talent throughout New England. This past weekend, they hosted Dana Tate and Philmon Gebrehiwet for an unofficial visit. Tate, a 6-foot-8, super productive and hard-playing forward, could be a URI lean as he brings great toughness and a sturdy 15-feet and in game. Gebrehiwet, on the other hand, is a 6-foot-7 small forward that brings versatility and a solid overall skillset to the court. Each play for the Expressions 17-under team this summer and they would be fantastic grabs for Danny Hurley and his program.