The COVID-19 pandemic has sidelined spring and summer shoe circuit basketball for the foreseeable future, but the recruiting battle lines have already been drawn on some of the top juniors in the country.
With official and unofficial visits off the table, college coaches have turned to constant texting and virtual tours of their campuses, in hopes of trying to gain even the slightest edge in these unprecedented times.
SI All-Americans like O’Dea (Seattle) forward Paolo Banchero, Hillcrest Prep (Phoenix, Ariz.) forward Michael Foster, Hamilton (Sussex, Wis.) wing Patrick Baldwin Jr. and also Patrick School (Hillside, N.J.) wing Jonathan Kuminga will be at the forefront of the most intense wars.
“It’s pretty cool to be able to get to know all of the big-time coaches and keep a relationship with them,” Banchero said. “This is a position that every player wants to be in, so I just think about it like that. Right now, I’m just building my relationships with them and getting to know them and gathering information.”
Foster has only seen the beginning of the recruiting intensity; initially college coaches were holding off on applying the full-court recruiting press on Foster because he was rumored to be leaning toward going overseas and becoming a pro over attending college.
“I don’t know how that rumor got started,” Foster said. “But I feel like college is gonna be the best route for me.”
Now, Foster is beginning to feel the love.
“I had a lot of visits set up before the pandemic hit,” Foster said. “It’s a fun process, but I know it will get more intense in the future. As long as we keep things in perspective, I think it’ll be fun.”