Not all summers are equal for college coaches, and even the same summer isn't identical for the men now embarked upon the July recruiting trail. While every major program will send emissaries to the national and most relevant regional events to take place the remainder of this month, some programs' immediate agendas are highly disparate.
A few schools largely have wrapped up their 2014 recruiting efforts, while others must sign multiple players and will utilize the next few weeks to establish a hierarchy nearly from scratch. College coaches obviously prefer to notch early commitments in order to alleviate pressure and focus on one or two remaining priorities, but that desire doesn't always pan out.
In this column, we've examined three schools that should enjoy a relatively streamlined month and three that face greater urgency.
The Tar Heels have compiled the nation's best class early, boasting pledges from three top-35 prospects. No. 7 Justin Jackson leads the way, and he's joined by blue-chip point guard Joel Berry and elite defender Theo Pinson as potential prep All-Americans.
That said, Roy Williams isn't finished. The 2014-15 roster will enjoy very little perimeter depth, and thus UNC continues to pursue its top remaining target, Rashad Vaughn. The coaching staff can afford to direct significant resources at Vaughn the rest of the way, and they may dabble with elite big man Myles Turner as well.
Mark Turgeon's program won't begin play in the Big Ten until its 2014 signees are freshmen, and the transition to this point has run smoothly. Fans understandably had expressed concern about the program's recruiting efforts -- the Terrapins will be a Midwest-affiliated alien within their own geographical territory -- but the club actually has enjoyed an uptick over the past 12 months.
The Terps hold pledges from three top-100 prospects: swingman Dion Wiley, combo guard Romelo Trimble and forward Jared Nickens. Although they'd happily accept another commitment from an elite guard, the staff now can sharpen its efforts on the frontcourt.
How does Kentucky find its way on this list? After all, the Wildcats have required annual talent influxes during the John Calipari era, and next spring likely will bring another NBA exodus. But that's the thing: The ‘Cats have fashioned their program to endure potentially crippling personnel trains, using those very depletions to entice the next wave of elite signees. The Wildcats also have feasted each spring. Julius Randle's dramatic announcement for UK a few months ago was but one of many since Calipari arrived in Lexington. Thus, Kentucky can afford to play the long game, observe which chips fall where and construct its own class accordingly. And with star big man Karl Towns already on board, the job becomes that much easier.
Tom Izzo and Michigan State. Not only is Michigan State going to have to replace Adreian Payne and Keith Appling following graduation, but there is a very good chance that Gary Harris will also depart for the NBA meaning not only quantity, but quality players are gone.
The Spartans are in deep with some of the nation's best like Jahlil Okafor, Tyus Jones, Kevon Looney, Tyler Ulis, Devin Booker, Cliff Alexander and others. After a small class in 2013 and some key losses coming, not only will Michigan State need to bring in a big class, but it also must be an impact one. Look for Izzo and his staff to be all over the place working to secure the class they need to keep things rolling in East Lansing.
Alford and company absolutely have to make a statement with their first class and some of their top targets are still out there. Point guards Josh Perkins and Jordan McLaughlin will be tracked non-stop as will wing Stanley Johnson. Also UCLA needs to bring in a couple of bigs to shore up the frontcourt, so needless to say it is going to be a busy time for the Bruins coaches this July as their first true recruiting class is a very important one.
Right now the Gophers are ticketed to have six scholarships to give and they need help all over the floor. Luckily for Pitino and his staff the state of Minnesota is loaded with talent this year with four players in the top 100. On top of that they are really pursuing some East Coast kids like Isaiah Whitehead hard. This is a key class for Pitino and company, and there is no doubt they have a busy July ahead tracking all of their top prospects and also getting evaluations on other kids they didn't have a chance to see in April.