Storylines: Recapping July

July is the most important month for college basketball coaches in terms of recruiting. The month consists of three five-day evaluation periods where coaches scour the country looking for prospective recruits for their team. What were the biggest stories from the trail?


Perhaps the biggest question heading into the July evaluation periods centered around who was the top prospect in the 2015 and 2016 classes. Looking back on the month, there certainly were a few guys that separated themselves and/or put themselves in the conversation. In the 2015 class, Ben Simmons and Jaylen Brown, in my opinion, raised their level of play and have established themselves as the top two prospects. Simmons looked more like a wing prospect than ever before and dominated the Peach Jam with his strength, physicality and scoring ability. He’s skilled, a tremendous passer and tough to stop from getting to the rim. Brown, a 6-foot-7 wing, has great size and tremendous athleticism. Playing for Game Elite, Brown showed flashes of dominance and competed on both ends of the floor. In 2016, it looks like moving Jayson Tatum up was a great idea, as he had an inspiring July and put up video game type numbers playing in the 16’s division at Peach Jam. College coaches raved about him every step of the way. It does, however, sound like Harry Giles is getting healthy and a healthy Harry Giles is a scary thought. He was the best freshman I had ever seen at the time and according to colleague Brian Snow and multiple college coaches he was the best prospect at the USA Basketball U17 trials.


Isaiah Briscoe has been on a tear the entire spring and summer. He torched the EYBL circuit for much for the year, drew rave reviews from the Pangos All-American camp and then showed up at the Nike Peach Jam and refused to lose. His trimmed up frame is allowing him to do things off the dribble he couldn’t previously do. He lived in the paint at Peach Jam and consistently scored through contact. He could still become a better long-range shooter, but his ability to get by defenders at score at the rim is top notch. He's physical, tough and as competitive as they come. He showed up in Augusta prepared to lead Jimmy Salmon’s team to the Peach Jam crown and he did just that.


Mitchell has massive July
No player improved his stock in July more than Wolfeboro (N.H.) Brewster Academy standout Donovan Mitchell. I watched the powerfully built 6-foot-3 guard in every July evaluation period and a total of four times. Each time he was impressive. Last November he was known as an athlete with potential on the defensive end. Now he’s much more than and is a shot maker from three. All four times I watched him in July he hit multiple threes, including three or more in three of the games. He’s an improved ball handler and passer as well. He makes aggressive plays towards the rim and once he’s there he’s a terrific finisher because of his strength and athleticism. Speaking of his athleticism, he’s quite gifted in that area and is capable of highlight reel dunks in transition or off put backs. He’s a lock down defender that moves well laterally and plays a tough, physically brand of ball. Heading into July, Mitchell wasn’t regarded as a top 100 prospect. Now he’s in the conversation for a spot in’s top 25.


Creighton deserves some serious credit for getting Justin Patton, a 6-foot-11 big man, committed before he got out on the July circuit. I’m not quite sure how he managed to fly under the radar this long, but I evaluated him twice in Las Vegas and Josh Gershon saw him once and the resounding thought was this guy is loaded with upside and potential. A legitimate high major player and future top 100 prospect, Patton is clearly blessed with good height, but also has an extremely long set of arms. He’s mobile and able to get end-to-end quickly. Patton has a nice set of hands that caught virtually everything thrown his way. Plus he has impressive touch in the paint. He also showed tremendous confidence in his mid-range jumper, as he buried multiple shots from that area in my viewings. Defensively, he’s able to impact the game with his shot blocking.


The biggest development of July to me was the amount of players that emerged in Las Vegas as potential top 100 candidates. I was set to leave Las Vegas Friday night during the last evaluation period and head to Louisville for AAU Nationals. But I couldn’t get on the plane. There were too many players in Las Vegas that I needed to evaluate. Justin Patton, who we mentioned above, was one of the guys that emerged. Marquette commit Matt Heldt also falls in this category. At 6-foot-9, pushing 6-10, he has a high skill level and can step out to 22-feet to make jump shots. Look for him to make his way into’s next updated top 100. Drew Eubanks and Mytisse Thybulle both were quite intriguing in Las Vegas and are now under consideration for the top 100, as are Kerwin Roach, Matt Neufeld, Jacob Evans and Dean Wade. Other guys that emerged in July included: Ted Kapita, Barry Brown, Jake Lindsey,


Jaylen Brown’s recruitment is an interesting one. As I mentioned above, Brown is an elite level recruit, and is in the conversation as the best player in the 2015 class. Having talked to a number of coaches and people around Brown’s recruitment, it’s been tough to figure out exactly what he’s thinking and where he’s leaning. While he’s accessible, he’s certainly savvy and doesn’t show his cards. What we do know is there appears to be five schools involved -- Georgia, Georgia Tech, Kansas, Kentucky and UCLA. He has taken unofficial visits to Georgia and Georgia Tech and he’s scheduled to visit UCLA on August 5th. That will be an unofficial visit. I’ve been told that he intends to visit Kansas and Kentucky before he makes his choice, which will come in the early signing period. “He’ll definitely decide in the first period,” Game Elite coach Ryan Falker told So we certainly aren’t too far off from an announcement, but it’s still interesting because it’s hard to get a grasp for who is leading and which schools stand above the rest.


Pritzl has signature performance
There were some quality performances to choose from. Jalen Adams’ 25-point first half against Team Loaded Virginia in Las Vegas immediately comes to mind. Adams was unconscious for a half, scoring every way imaginable. Malik Monk went for 40 in a game, but I can't go with that one since I didn't see it. The best performance I saw was Brevin Pritzl’s 38-point outing against Team Texas Elite at the Big Foot Hoops event. Pritzl hit five three-pointers, mid-range pull-ups, one-legged runners and crafty finishes at the rim. The Wisconsin commit had the gym buzzing, as he hit tough shot after tough shot. The big performance helped the Wisconsin Playground Warriors to a tournament win. There were four top 100 prospects on the other team, but no one could slow down Pritzl.


While there was plenty of talent in Las Vegas, Louisville, Kansas City and other places during the final evaluation period, USA Basketball shook things up by inviting 38 of the top players in the country to participate in the U17 Men’s Developmental National Training Camp. This obviously pulled a number of highly regarded players off their AAU teams and to Colorado Springs during the last evaluation period. This changed the dynamics for some teams, as they played with out their best player during one of the biggest weeks of the AAU season. The camp was open to coaches for one day and an estimated 50 to 60 coaches were in attendance. The pure level of talent at the event was impressive, as elite level recruit like Dennis Smith and Malik Monk were among those let go during the first of two cuts. analyst Brian Snow put it best on Monk: “He will probably not be cut from a basketball team for the rest of his life.”

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