Storylines: July Evaluation Period

July is one of the most important months of the recruiting calendar. College coaches can evaluate potential recruits for three five day periods beginning on Wednesday. What are the biggest stories in the recruiting world heading into the evaluation period?

Newman/Stone package deal

Since the early spring, Malik Newman and Diamond Stone have been adamant that they intend to go to college together. Newman reaffirmed the plan to last week at the Stephen Curry Select Camp. Newman said that Connecticut, Kentucky, Kansas, North Carolina State and Miami are recruiting them both as a package. There are, however, some schools recruiting them separately. I’m curious to see whom keys in on them and which head coach shows up the most to watch them during the July evaluation periods.

Keep it in the family

One of the most interest storylines of the 2015 class is the amount of college coaches that will be recruiting their sons this July. It starts in Corvallis, Ore., at Oregon State, where new head coach Wayne Tinkle and assistant Stephen Thompson each have a son ranked in’s 2015 top 100. The Oregon State staff is sure to follow Tres Tinkle, a versatile forward, and high-level scorer Stephen Thompson Jr. throughout the summer. Oregon State hasn’t picked up a top 100 player since 2009; they now have a great chance at getting two. Rick Brunson, who is reportedly being hired at Temple, is the father of five-star point guard Jalen Brunson. Keelon Lawson is also being strongly considered for multiple college openings. He’s the father of Memphis commit K.J. Lawson and his 2016 brother Dedric Lawson.

2016 elite prospect returns

Harry Giles, who was one of the best freshmen I’ve ever evaluated, should be closer to full strength this July. Giles, who had surgery on his ACL, MCL and Meniscus, played in seven games on the Nike EYBL Circuit in the spring and then shut things down in June in preparation for July. At 6-foot-9, Giles is a versatile forward with a terrific basketball frame, good ball skills and an impressive scoring ability. As a freshman and sophomore he was regarded as the top player in his class. It’ll be interesting to see his development and how he’s recovering from surgery because prior to the injury he showed tremendous upside and elite potential. He plans to play at Peach Jam during the second session and USA Basketball in the third period.

Who is No. 1?

Will Simmons make a run at No. 1? (KellyKline/UnderArmour)
Perhaps the biggest debate at basketball headquarters has been who is the top prospect in the 2015 class. When we updated our list a few weeks ago, Diamond Stone, a 6-foot-10 skilled big man, sat at the pole position, but it wasn’t without heated debate. The other players considered were Ben Simmons, Jaylen Brown and Ivan Rabb. All four will be getting after the next three weeks and there’s potential for Simmons and Rabb to match up at LeBron this week. This is the biggest month of the recruiting calendar and a lot could happen. Will one of these guys emerge from the pack? Will a new name jump into the top tier?

Who will Kentucky get?

Five of the past six years John Calipari has signed the top recruiting class in the country and usually heading into July there’s a player or two, typically at the top of the rankings, that you point at and say he is going to Kentucky. This year, I’m not quite sure who that is. The Wildcats are heavily recruiting top 10 players Diamond Stone (how hard has remains to be seen), Jaylen Brown, Malik Newman, Cheick Diallo, Stephen Zimmerman, Skal Labissiere and Carlton Bragg. Since 2009 they’ve picked up 15 top 100 players, so they are sure to get one or more, but it’s not clear cut which player Kentucky will walk away this go around.

Who is reclassifying

Reclassifying seems to be the fad again. Five-star big man Caleb Swanigan made a move from the 2016 to the 2015 class in the middle of the spring. Now there are two other highly touted 2016 recruits that are contemplating moving up a grade. Thon Maker, a 7-footer who ranks No. 4 overall in 2016, has been open about the possibility of reclassifying. But a number of sources have told that the No. 2 player in the class – Josh Jackson – is also heavily considering and even leaning towards making a move to the 2015 class. Maker’s decision will come in early August. Jackson doesn’t do many interviews, so it’s unlikely this news will break from him, but could it come out any time soon?

Top PG in 2016?

Dennis Smith and Kobi Simmons made big moves in’s 2016 top 75 when we released them on Monday. Derryck Thornton also jump from No. 11 into the top 10 after impressives showings at NBPA Top 100 camp and Stephen Curry Select Camp. Lonzo Ball is also ranked among the top 15 players in the country. All four are high-level prospects and could potentially make a run at the top point guard spot in 2016. Each is very different, but effective in their own ways. Smith is a fast, athletic and a tremendous finisher. Simmons has good size at 6-foot-4 and is a scoring one. Thornton may be the best at running a team and is a true set up guy that also locks up on defense. Ball is intriguing because of his size, vision and ability to rip the nets from deep.

Will any PG’s emerge in 2015?

I’ve received countless phone calls from college coaches searching for point guards in the 2015 class. 13 of the top 30 lead guards in the class are already committed. It’s already a thin group, as just 16 point guards are in the 2015 top 100. There will be ample opportunity for some new guys to emerge. If I were a betting man the best chance for a new name to emerge would be at Reebok Breakout Camp, the Victor Oladipo/Ty Lawson All-American Camp, out in Las Vegas or at one of the Hoop Group events.

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