Notebook: Head of the class?

In our weekly Notebook feature, the national team explores creative and broad topics from the grassroots hoops realm.

No. 1 spot wide open as ever

Last year heading into the month of July, it was pretty clear that either Kentucky or Duke would end up with the No. 1 spot in the team recruiting rankings. While neither had a ton of commitments, it was a foregone conclusion that Tyus Jones was going to Duke, and the Blue Devils were in a great spot with Justise Winslow and Jahlil Okafor, especially with Okafor and Jones saying they were a package deal. And Kentucky looked to be in great shape with Trey Lyles and Devin Booker to go along with the earlier committed Karl Towns.

For those playing close attention, it was pretty obvious one of those two squads would end up with the best class in the country. However, this year things are wide open.

Arizona could be firmly in the mix as they are presumed leader for top five prospect Ivan Rabb along with current commitment Justin Simon (pictured, above). Then the Wildcats are also in the lead group with Ray Smith as well as Allonzo Trier. Kentucky, UCLA, Duke, and North Carolina can never ever be counted out and are in the mix with elite kids as well, but some of the top prospects seem wide open and could go in a lot of different directions, including some non "blue blood" programs.

Overall it will be interesting to see what direction many of the top kids go in and who emerges as the favorite to land the top overall class.

— Brian Snow

Curry is hands on at Camp

Stephen Curry's first top 20 camp tipped off on Sunday and he and Under Armour brought in a strong group of players that includes Malik Newman, Derryck Thornton, Tyus Battle, Terrance Ferguson and elite freshman Troy Brown.

It became clear immediately that Curry takes pride in his event. He's been an active teacher, has played a major role in the drills and has even played one on one with the participants.

"He's been here every day working with us," five-star guard Malik Newman told "He didn't just sit in here, he's been in here teaching us."

Newman said the camp has been beneficial for him, especially considering the type of player Curry is.

"It means a lot because he's one of the top point guards in the league and one of the top scorers and I'm a scorer too so learning from him, at the highest level you could play at, is a good experience," Newman said.

— Evan Daniels

Cal staff having early success

While Cuonzo Martin and California's new staff have yet to get on the board in 2015, the Golden Bears are laying the groundwork for future recruiting success.

The key is going to be doing a good job locally and the staff has recognized that, already getting's top-ranked West Coast prospect in 2015, Ivan Rabb, on campus for an unofficial visit, while also working on his talented teammate in rising senior Paris Austin, a player Cal will seriously evaluate in July.

Cal's staff has already received an unofficial visit from Cameron Walker, one of the top few small forward prospects out West in 2015 and another Top 100 prospect. Other senior visitors include Derrick Bruce and Khalil Fuller.

Rabb would give the Bears a franchise recruit

Amongst the younger in-state recruits who have been on campus since Martin took over have been Jayce Johnson, Donovan Mitchell, Damari Milstead, Carlos Johnson, Christian Terrell, Alfred Hollins, Jordan Ford, Ben Kone, Oscar Frayer and Tim Harrison.

The Cal coaches aren't just staying local, as 2015 Top 100 Louisiana shooting guard Brandon Sampson has committed to taking an official visit to Berkeley, and talented 2015 Florida guard Haanif Cheatham included the Golden Bears in his final six.

There's still a lot of work to be done, but the Cal staff is off to a good start.

— Josh Gershon

Out of the Woods

It was announced this week that Seventh Woods will miss the July evaluation period. The junior guard has been playing with a broken wrist and will sit out to allow the injury to heal.

The ramifications range from minor to major, depending upon one's perspective. From a less significant perspective, there's always the question of ranking. Woods performed okay at the recent NBPA Top 100 Camp but not to the level of a top 10 player, for sure, and now we have a clearer understanding for why that may have been the case.

The downside to sitting out is that he'll exit the summer deprived of an opportunity to leave a stronger impression heading into his junior season, although again, with the damaged wrist, it's uncertain how effective he truly could have been.

More significantly, his absence could affect his recruitment as well. Woods holds some elite offers but may have been able to attract a greater number now that coaches will be back on the road. He plays for the Carolina Wolves, which during this year's lone evaluation period competed in Pittsburgh— one of two Under Armour events happening simultaneously, which diluted coaching attendance. For that reason he received less exposure than he would have given the far greater number of evaluation days in July, and the fact that UA will feature a consolidated, strong national event in Atlanta within the next couple weeks.

For perceived ringleader North Carolina, which offered long ago, perhaps that's not such a bad thing. Or for South Carolina or Clemson, which would dearly love to keep Woods in the Palmetto State for college. It's not that people don't know about Woods or can't watch him next season, but the injury might delay offers and thus enable those already in the mix to increase their prominence.

— Rob Harrington

Evan Daniels, Brian Snow, Josh Gershon and Rob Harrington contributed to this report

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