LAS VEGAS — Over the decades, thousands of college coaches have flocked to Las Vegas at the end of July as a last-stop extravaganza to wrap up the enervating summer recruiting season.
Now, that era is about to end. The NCAA’s forthcoming renovation on college basketball’s recruiting calendar is scheduled to eliminate Las Vegas as the most populated hub for end-of-July recruiting evaluation at non-scholastic events. Outside of the Final Four, no event brought more coaches together — from all levels of college basketball — to one place.
“I hope they don’t take Vegas away,” the head coach at a blueblood school told me as we sat inside Spring Valley High on Friday afternoon.
But, according to my sources, the NCAA will officially vote to do just that on Aug. 8.
Meaning last week’s mad dash through the Fab 48, the Las Vegas Classic, Under Armour Association’s finale, Bigfoot Hoops’ mammoth tournament, Nike’s The Eight — and dozens more events — were the last of their kind. We’re talking more than a thousand travel teams (amounting to easily north of 10,000 middle schoolers and high schoolers) will lose out on a special opportunity and a decades-old tradition of highlighting their summers with a trip to the Strip.
Even if those events continue on in Las Vegas going forward, they won’t be held in the same regard or manner. Either they’ll be bumped up against other big tournaments held elsewhere in the early part of July — which would splice up rosters, media coverage and coaches able to attend — or they’ll keep on late in the month but without coaches showing up altogether.
While the Peach Jam is still considered the best event in all of grassroots basketball, nothings brings about recruiting romanticism like tales, old and new, of Vegas.
So here’s to the groggy 8 a.m. tips in far-off gyms; to the backbreaking 12-hour days in bleachers; to the 1 a.m. blackjack table runs; to the coaches doing things they probably shouldn’t have been doing; and to the 30-minute hauls from one side of the desert to the other in order to make the next game’s tip. There is nothing like what Las Vegas can provide for coaches and programs, and it will not be replaced.
Here’s a look at what the Vegas period brought from a player perspective, and some of the other biggest storylines to emerge.
1. Kevin Durant disagrees with NCAA recruiting changes
While Durant received the most attention at USA Basketball minicamp for his response to mercurial social media behavior, he also spoke passionately about his love for youth basketball and the process in getting to college.
I asked Durant his opinion on potential changes to the recruiting model. After all, he was an elite recruit before getting to Texas but someone who famously was media-friendly from a young age and a player who’s supported grassroots basketball his entire career.
He doesn’t believe a switch to camps is going to help players.
“I think it’s important for grassroots basketball in general, they need a team setting in order to figure out how to play basketball,” Durant said. “I think taking that away, the coaches don’t really get to see their true value in they aren’t in the team setting. You might get a role player that might be just good at catch-and-shoot, but how would you know that at team camp? How could you know what guys would play what roles? I think, for basketball’s sake, it would be pretty stupid to not let the coaches be in here while these kids play.”
Durant spent some of his time earlier in July at Peach Jam. He didn’t have a sponsored team in the event, but being a Nike athlete, he showed up to support the event and the players. He did so by sitting alongside coaches and yelling out encouragement to prospects as they made their way through the EYBL’s top tournament. Few players (Chris Paul being one of them) have played the ambassador role in grassroots basketball as consistently and prominently as Durant.
2. The dual shoe company showcase ended just as it was getting started
On opening night, at Bishop Gorman High School, the best Nike team (Team Takeover) played the best Adidas team (Compton Magic) for a one-game showcase that highlighted some of the best of grassroots basketball. I love those settings: you have five-star talent playing for Hall of Fame coaches, who are reduced to sitting in the bleachers just like almost everyone else in the gym. Compton Magic won in overtime.
It was a good moment for non-scholastic basketball. It showed that the big apparel companies can get along for the betterment of the players, for the enhancement of hoops.
But thanks to 2019’s impending legislation, there doesn’t seem to be a window to allow it to happen again. Nike, Under Armour and Adidas will be forced to play their circuits out in the spring and then, probably, wrap up their tournaments concurrently (in different cities) in the first live period of July. If it were to be in the second period, coaches would not be able to attend.
And part of the pizzazz of what went on at Gorman that first night in Vegas was about the fact that you had every power program, and hordes of media, on hand to watch.
Turns out it’s probably going to be just a one-time thing.
3. Bronny James, only 13, set to become hoops recruiting’s biggest story
No matter the recruiting rules, Bronny James is set to become the top summer college hoops story for the next four years. LeBron James seems set on attending his son’s games, which will only add to the glamour and chaos of events to come.
“We try to keep it normal, to make sure Bronny is one of the guys,” Joe Orukotan, who coaches Bronny James’ North Coast Blue Chips, told me.
But there is no keeping it normal. James admitted this recently when, in a PR push for his forthcoming show on HBO, he admitted regret over giving his son the name LeBron James Jr.
I’ll say this: It’s not sound practice to evaluate and project on 13-year-olds, but at this stage it’s pretty clear that Bronny James is a very good basketball player compared to other kids his age. If he develops and grows at a high rate, the competition for his recruitment — and the cottage industry that will explode from covering him throughout high school — is going to huge. The boy is only heading into eighth grade and his Los Angeles-area high school of choice has already become a regular topic of discussion nationally.
4. D.J. Jeffries becomes first player to decommit from John Calipari at Kentucky
This happened just after Vegas wrapped, but clearly the decision was finalized in the lead-up to Las Vegas or during Jeffries’ time there last week. A source told CBS Sports that, despite what Jeffries’ father said on radio Tuesday, that the UK staff was at peace with Jeffries’ decision.
Better to know now than a month into his freshman season, right?
Kentucky’s 2019 class won’t live or die based on one player’s decision. And to this point, John Calipari’s had a top-two recruiting class every year he’s been at Kentucky. Until that stops happening, UK fans have no reason to worry.
Still, the four-star Jeffries became the first player (there have been 58 to date) to leave Calipari at the alter in his Kentucky tenure. Jeffries, who played alongside No. 1 overall 2019 prospect James Wiseman, is suspected to be Memphis-bound now. If that happens, then things get juicy in a hurry. What will Wiseman do?
5. Players who stood out or broke out
A few quick notes on players outside the top 10 in 247Sports 2019 composite rankings …
Jalen Green. Well, what’s not to like about the No. 1 player in the class of 2020? I could list off why he had such a good July, but please, please read this tremendous profile on Green that was done by our Colin Ward-Henninger.
Nico Mannion. The five-star point guard reclassified to 2018 and has a ton of buzz. Arizona is considered the leader at this point. Sean Miller’s recruiting has expectedly taken a hit after the FBI scandal, and Mannion could be the guy who helps stabilize the program going forward. In speaking with some coaches and analysts in July, though, he’s a little polarizing. Some don’t see him as a top-20 guy.
Boogie Ellis. A sparky 6-3 combo guard from the West Coast who had a scoring breakout in Peach Jam. According to Evan Daniels of 247 Sports, “Not many helped themselves as much as Ellis did during the month of July. Ellis, a 6-foot-3 combination guard, was terrific at the Nike Peach Jam, where he helped the Oakland Soldiers to the semi-finals of the event. In 16 EYBL regular season games, Ellis averaged 14.6 points a game. At the Peach Jam, he raised that to 23 points a game, and connected on 23 of 40 three-point attempts.”
He’s received increased attention to the point where his decision is now a lot more complicated than it was at the start of July. Arizona, Georgia Tech, Oregon, San Diego State and USC are reportedly the five schools most heavily in the mix.
Armando Bacot. The five-star big man who played for Team Takeover in July opted to cut his list to five schools late last week. Duke, North Carolina, Oklahoma State and VCU are the finalists.
“It’s a two horse race,” one coach involved in the process told CBS Sports.
The leader? Pretty much everyone thinks it’s UNC. Bacot had a great July. He’s cut a lot of weight and wound up as Team Takeover’s top player throughout the month. I don’t see him as a one-and-done player, but he arguably made strides as big as any other five-star guy in the past three weeks.
Drew Timme. I’ll have more on Timme later this week (he’s an unusual 2019 prospect for an uncommon decision he’s made in recent months), but I want to list him here because he’s one of my favorite kids in the class. He rocks a headband over his floppy hair, seems like he’s 20 percent elbows and knees, but also has a classic-yet-unorthodox game. Here, this tweet from veteran recruiting analyst Eric Bossi sums it up well.
Kadin Shedrick. I always like to throw an under-the-radar prospect in when possible. You might not know the name now, but look up at the college hoops landscape in 2022 and you’ll probably see Shedrick putting up really good numbers for a pretty good school. Shedrick is a 4.0 student who was fairly off the radar in 2017. Now his life has changed drastically after he blew up in July. (From what I can tell, this was as fruitful a July for low- and mid-major prospects bumping up a level as we’ve seen in many years.) Shedrick’s getting interest from Georgetown, Nebraska, Creighton, Xavier, Ole Miss, Stanford, Arizona State, Northwestern and others. He’s still raw but has incredible length and a good natural knack for space and scoring. Defensively, he looks confident around the rim. He has no official ranking in 247 Sports’ composite as of now, but that’s going to change soon.
Liam Mcchesney. Sounds like a guy who loves him some Oasis and pop-country. But no. Mcchesney is in fact Canadian, a where’d-that-guy-come-from prospect who managed to make it to Vegas and now has ensured himself of a college scholarship. He hails from a tiny outpost: Prince Rupert in British Columbia, Canada. He had to drive 20 hours to make it to Vancouver’s airport in order to play in Vegas! One of the really cool stories, of so many, that annually bubble up in Las Vegas.
Top-10 prospects report
10. Bryan Antoine | 6-4 | SG
Crystal Ball says: Duke.
Antoine has been a standout for three years on Team Rio, an Under Armour-sponsored team. In May, Antoine announced his top five: Duke, Florida, Kansas, Kentucky and Villanova. He’ll visit all of those schools this fall. He had a steady July, though Team Rio might be the most disappointing team in all of non-scholastic basketball. The roster is loaded with talent yet frequently was defeated by seemingly inferior teams. Most promising about Antoine is his long-term potential as a 3-point specialist. He’s got good length and physicality, and when you combine that with a reliable 3-point shot, it sets him up well for college and the NBA.
9. Scottie Lewis | 6-5 | W
Crystal Ball says: Florida.
Tantalizing prospect, someone who’s been labeled as an obvious potential one-and-done player since he was 15. Lewis is slim-waisted, long-legged, bouncy and sinewy. He played alongside Antoine on Team Rio. At Fab 48 in Las Vegas, he had one of the most ridiculous put-back dunks I’ve ever seen by a high school player (so why can’t I find video of it?). Lewis did nothing to dissuade me or actual recruiting analysts in regard to his top-10 status in 2019. The one thing his game needs is a jump shot.
Intriguing subplot to track. Well, first let me set up like this. In 2016, I made note of this coming out of the Vegas period: “Mike Rice coaches Team Rio, a squad out of New Jersey. Yes, former Rutgers coach Mike Rice. He’s, in an under-the-radar way, trying to work his way back to a Division I sideline. Being a head coach at the college level might not ever happen again, but he’ll probably get his chance as an assistant, it’s just going to take a few more years. Coaching the likes of Scottie Lewis and Bryan Antoine would seemingly only help facilitate his return, though.”
Rice was still coach for Team Rio this spring and summer. Some scuttlebutt coming out of Vegas this year included the potential for Rice, who was fired from Rutgers in 2013 after video surfaced of him abusing players, to join St. John’s staff. If that happens, might Lewis follow? Florida has the Crystal Ball edge at the moment, but St. John’s seems to be picking up steam. Kentucky, Duke, Villanova, Stanford and Harvard are all also still under Lewis’ consideration list.
8. Tyrese Maxey | 6-2 | CG
Verbally committed to Kentucky on May 9.
Maxey is the only player ranked in the top 19 in the class of 2019 at 247 Sports who has committed to a school at this point. He played at Peach Jam/on the Nike circuit with Houston Hoops, and had some nice moments. To me, Maxey looks to be the kind of poised backcourt player who John Calipari will really embrace. He’s listed as a combo guard at this point, but I think he’ll grow into a scoring point and be someone who doesn’t play off the ball too much in college. While Kentucky is taking a hit by losing D.J. Jeffries, Maxey is a much more valuable prospect for UK.
7. Precious Achiuwa | 6-8 | SF
Crystal Ball says: UConn.
No player in the top 10 has received less pub than Achiuwa, but he’s the big fish for Dan Hurley in his first year of recruiting at Connecticut. Achiuwa — who attends Saint Benedict’s, where Hurley used to coach high school ball — drew a lot of attention in Vegas while playing for his Under Armour-sponsored New Heights squad. He’s so naturally athletic, you can see how easy it would be for him to arrive in college and be a top-100 player right away. Kansas, St. John’s and Syracuse are also giving chase.
6. Matthew Hurt | 6-9 | PF
Crystal Ball says: Kansas.
Hurt is being chased by a ton of bluebloods — basically all of them except Kentucky. (Arizona, Duke, Indiana, Kansas, Louisville, North Carolina, UCLA.) He had an inconsistent showing in the game I saw him play in Vegas against Hoop City Elite, but thrived in other matchups during that period. Hurt is now being courted by Memphis as well, which only makes things all the more interesting for that program. There’s some disagreement among recruiting analysts as to how much Hurt’s game will grow in the coming year-plus, but his status as a top-10 prospect is safe from now until whenever the class rankings finalize. He told reporters in Las Vegas that he anticipates on committing by early November.
5. Isaiah Stewart | 6-9 | PF
Crystal Ball says: Duke.
What a fun player Stewart is. I walk away from July listing him in my top five for best watches of all prospects I came across in North Augusta and Las Vegas. He’s long, strong, has improving hands and always seems to play hard. It’s great when you get a top five-type of player who has talent to match his motor. Stewart shows that in spades. He’s still going to be relatively raw when he gets to college, but when Stewart is on he’s an invigorating talent. Will he wind up at Duke, or will Villanova be able to capitalize on its national championships as of late? Indiana, Georgetown, Louisville, Michigan State and Syracuse are also in there at the moment.
4. Jaden McDaniels | 6-10 | SF
Crystal Ball says: San Diego State.
While San Diego State is the Ball reading at the moment, the reality is nobody knows much yet. That’s because McDaniels has an uncommon recruitment for a five-star guy. His father is essentially in charge of the process, and coaches are not allowed to talk with McDaniels beyond basic communication. I detailed all of this earlier in July. As for his game, I remain a huge fan. If he fills out, develops a go-to 3-point shot and keeps up with his defensive trajectory, I think McDaniels has a chance to be the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. He had a great July. Now it’s a matter of which five schools will get official visits. Those five will be his final five for consideration.
3. Cole Anthony | 6-3 | CG
Crystal Ball says: Duke.
Anthony is an obvious big-time talent. He always plays hard, is vocal, likes to get to the rim but also can use his shot to keep defenses honest. His recruitment is becoming notorious because of how closed-off it is. Anthony has refused to give a list of his favorites or the schools who are recruiting him hardest, but Duke and Oregon are considered the leaders at this point. (I think it’s going to be Duke.) Anthony had a good Peach Jam and equally nice Vegas run. He’ll be attending Oak Hill Academy for his upcoming final season of high school.
2. Vernon Carey Jr. | 6-10 | C
Crystal Ball says: Duke.
A beast of a player who is going to be a program-changer no matter where he goes. Duke, Michigan State, Miami, Kentucky and North Carolina are all in the mix at this point. He’s the highest-ranked player in 2019 with the widest array of potential outcomes. Carey’s Each 1 Teach 1 team was consistently playing in front of big crowds and packed coaches’ seating sections. He’s a power player with a sneaky finesse touch to him. Rebounds reliably and doesn’t scare at all, best I could tell. Sometimes it looks too easy for Carey, who I never saw have an off game. His parents are from Miami; his dad played football in college and professionally in Miami. Can the Hurricanes win out over the biggest schools and Hall-of-Fame coaches?
1. James Wiseman | 6-11 | C
Crystal Ball says: Memphis.
Wiseman did not play in Las Vegas, and because of that, it’ll be interesting to see if he drops from the No. 1 spot in any recruiting rankings. Previously, I laid out why his hold on No. 1 appeared to be loosening. Wiseman released a top-eight list, but everyone in college basketball realizes that it’s going to be either Kentucky or Memphis. With Jeffries decommitting from UK, does that mean Wiseman’s more likely to stay local and play for Penny Hardaway? Sure, it could. But before the Jeffries news happened, some in Vegas were discussing Wiseman’s intent to stay at East High School in Memphis for his senior season and how that could be giving Hardaway a leg up on John Calipari. It’s going to be the No. 1 recruiting storyline in the next few months. Memphis could return as a national recruiting power — and do so at the expense of the coach who brought the program to its highest heights.
We’ll close with this: the top 10 classes as the July period ends. Keep in mind this list is going to drastically change by November. But it’s always interesting to see which schools have secured commitments heading into August.
CBS Sports HQ Daily Newsletter
Get the best highlights and stories – yeah, just the good stuff handpicked by our team to start your day.
Thanks for signing up!
Keep an eye on your inbox for the latest sports news.
There was an error processing your subscription.
Williamson is arguably in line to be the most electrifying dunker in college hoops next se…
Here’s what big changes are scheduled to come for college basketball recruiting
Penny Hardaway’s Memphis Tigers appear to be in a good spot to potentially nab the Mississippi…
Pitino was fired by the Cardinals in 2017 amid a scandal that centered around nefarious recruitment…
Fredette is single-handedly dragging his squad ever-closer to the ultimate $2 million cash…
The former NBA stars are using strong ties to grassroots programs they used to sponsor to aid…
- Backstreet Boys on Why Their Las Vegas Residency Isn’t the End
- Memorable moments: Kevin Durant’s 3s kept Cavaliers at bay, lifted Warriors to titles
- Las Vegas hosting 20th fireworks show to mark 2020 New Year
- Las Vegas shooting: At least 59 dead at Mandalay Bay Hotel
- Deontay Wilder vs Tyson Fury rematch confirmed for February 22 in Las Vegas
- Warriors frustrate Rockets’ James Harden to extend winning streak to 3
- LeBron James defends pass to Kyle Korver late in Game 3 from criticism
- Mass killings hit new high in US even as homicides decline
- US mass killings hit new high in 2019, most were shootings
- Jessie James Decker shows off her fit figure in leopard print bikini... after revealing she lost 25lbs on new diet
Kevin Durant's beef with the NCAA, Bronny James hits the big time and what else happened in Las Vegas have 3878 words, post on www.cbssports.com at July 31, 2018. This is cached page on Europe Breaking News. If you want remove this page, please contact us.