Evan Daniels introduces the top five players to watch this July, from DeAndre Ayton to Collin Sexton. Plus, find out why a top-15 recruit committed to Western Kentucky.
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Five players to know for July
July, the most important month of the year in the basketball recruiting world, is nearly here. College coaches will spend three five-day evaluation periods traveling the country to evaluate new prospects, track current targets and babysit commitments.
While college coaches and hardcore recruiting fans are already familiar with the names below, here are five players that average college basketball fans should begin to familiarize themselves with.
DeAndre Ayton, center, California Supreme
Why you should care: DeAndre Ayton is currently the No. 1 player in a pretty deep 2017 recruiting class. A Bahamian, Ayton stands 7-feet tall and is equipped with strong, wide shoulders and a wingspan that stretches nearly 7'6". He’s light on his feet, athletic and runs end to end like a guard. But there’s more to Ayton than just his physical characteristics. He has basketball instincts and a unique skill set that allows him to play on the block but also away from the rim. Although his shooting numbers aren’t great from three, he’s a threat to make shots from distance. Ayton has been picked apart because of his lack of effort and consistency at times, and rightfully so, but he’s still arguably the best prospect in high school basketball and a possibility to be No. 1 in the 2018 NBA draft.
Mohamed Bamba, C, PSA Cardinals
Why you should care: I believe Mohamed Bamba has the best shot of surpassing Ayton to be No. 1 in the 2017 class and the No. 1 draft pick in 2018. Bamba has ridiculous measurements at 6'11" with a 7'9" wingspan and a 9'7" standing reach. He’s been improving at an impressive rate since emerging during his sophomore season. His length, mobility, and athleticism allow him to be a one of the most imposing figures in high school basketball from a shot-blocking standpoint, but he’s no slouch on offense either. Bamba has quality hands, very good touch and scores it well from 15 feet and in.
Schools of Interest: Duke Blue Devils, Harvard Crimson, Kentucky Wildcats, Kansas Jayhawks, Villanova Wildcats & many others
Wendell Carter, C/PF, CP3 All-Stars
Why you should care: Wendell Carter is more than just a basketball player. Off the court, he’s very smart, participates in plays as an actor (missed an EYBL session for a theatrical performance) and loves to dance, which is evident by his Instagram. He’s also strongly considering and has his first official visit set up for Harvard. How many top three players have done that? On the court, Carter is a dominating post presence who compares favorably to current Philadelphia 76ers center Jahlil Okafor. His offensive arsenal is full of post moves, counters and now a face-up game that allows him to shoot jumpers out to 22 feet. At 6'10" and 235 pounds, he’s mobile, light on his feet and a very good area rebounder. Carter was arguably the best post prospect at the FIBA U17 World Championships in Zaragoza, Spain.
Schools of Interest: Duke Blue Devils, Harvard Crimson, Kentucky Wildcats
Marvin Bagley, PF, Phoenix Phamily
Why you should care: Marvin Bagley is easily the top prospect in the 2018 recruiting class. And the truth is he’s in a tier of his own in a down class that lacks depth. A 6'11" power forward out of Chatsworth (Calif.) Sierra Canyon, Bagley is offensively gifted. He’s able to score the ball both on the block and facing the rim. He’s athletic, mobile and has impressive physical attributes for his position. This spring and summer Bagley is running with the Phoenix Phamily on the EYBL circuit and is averaging an impressive 20.9 points and 10.6 rebounds.
Collin Sexton, PG, Southern Stampede
Why you should care: Collin Sexton, a 6'2" guard out of Mableton (Ga.) Pebblebrook, is the breakout player of the spring. Although he was already ranked in the top 50 after his high school season, Sexton has surpassed all expectations by leading the Nike EYBL league in scoring and making the USA U17 national team that is competing in FIBA U17 World Championships. Sexton is tough, aggressive and difficult to keep out of the lane. He’s so aggressive that he leads the EYBL in free throw attempts. Through 16 games, he’s taken 181 FTs. But get this, No. 2 in the league is Trae Young, who has attempted 90 free throws.
Top 15 recruit picks ... Western Kentucky?!
Rick Stansbury has a reputation as a dynamic recruiter. He landed highly touted players as the head coach for the Mississippi State Bulldogs and helped Billy Kennedy rebuild his roster as an assistant with the Texas A&M Aggies.
Now, as the head coach for the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers, he’s up to his old tricks. On Wednesday, Stansbury, who replaced Ray Harper as the Hilltoppers' head coach during the off-season, reeled in one of his biggest recruits yet.
But why the Hilltoppers?
"It's a group of people that I trust," Robinson said.
There’s a reason Robinson has so much trust in WKU’s staff. He’s quite familiar with two of them.
Stansbury recruited and helped Texas A&M land a pledge from Robinson last October. But when Stansbury left for WKU, Robinson backed off his pledge. It doesn’t stop there. Stansbury recently hired former North Carolina standout Shammond Williams as an assistant coach. Williams is Robinson’s godfather.
Robinson, a 6'11", 225-pound post player, would be an impact performer at any school in the country. He recently moved into Scout’s top 15 following a terrific spring playing for Nike Pro Skills on the EYBL circuit. Through four sessions, Robinson is averaging 15.5 points, 11.6 rebounds and is leading the league in blocked shots with just over four a game.
The Washington Huskies added a pledge from Scout’s No. 63 overall prospect Jaylen Nowell on Wednesday. Nowell had schools like UCLA, Oregon, among others recruiting him, but the Seattle native opted to stay close to home, which wasn’t a surprise. Lorenzo Romar and his staff are tough to beat on local prospects, and Nowell is the latest reminder of that.
Cincinnati Bearcats coach Mick Cronin wanted to add a shooter in his 2017 class, and they did just that on Wednesday with addition of Texas native Trevor Moore. A 6'4" guard, Moore shot 35-for-93 from three this spring playing with the Houston Defenders on the Under Armour Association circuit.