Virginia: Come one, come all
The state of Virginia sits at an increasingly fascinating recruiting junction. The Old Dominion, always a hotbed for ACC and other proximal colleges, has become something of a free for all among top prospects.
Schools representing every conference now routinely add Virginia to their list of mandatory recruiting stops, and the results are showing on the grassroots trail. Senior forward Chris Clarke, for example, will announce on Thursday from among Connecticut (AAC), Creighton (Big East), Tennessee (SEC) and Virginia Tech (ACC).
Meanwhile, the Big Ten — namely, Indiana — has been extremely active within the state over the past few cycles, and the Hoosiers toppled illustrious ACC programs in recent years to win out for Troy Williams and Robert Johnson.
In the past, Virginia’s native sons were more provincial. The epic recruiting war for Ralph Sampson resulted in a UVa victory, while Alonzo Mourning and (eventually) Allen Iverson headed to neighboring Georgetown. J.R. Reid and two-sport superstar Ronald Curry signed with North Carolina, and Grant Hill and J.J. Redick picked Duke.
And clearly, Virginia natives continue to weigh their local options carefully — McDonald’s All-American Anthony Barber picked N.C. State over Kansas a couple years ago — but the dynamic fundamentally has changed.
Just last weekend, top sophomore point guard Matt Coleman cited a list of offers that included Memphis, UConn and Cincinnati. An expansive offer list is hardly a surprise for a player of his stature, but consider that he did not claim offers from any North Carolina or Maryland-based schools. Programs outside the region aren’t merely recruiting players; in some cases they’re getting there first.
Scott Spencer offers another timely example. The reclassified junior wing’s biggest claimed offer comes from Washington, of all places, as the Huskies constitute his only major conference offer thus far.
Maybe all this is an anomaly, but I don’t think so. The state now borders a Big Ten (Maryland) and Big 12 (West Virginia) program due to recent alternations in conference affiliation, making schools outside the ACC and old Big East more visible and present within the minds of young athletes. Recruiting also generally has become more national as this trend has taken foothold in other areas as well, but for decades Virginia had been a more insulated hotbed for the regional schools.
Recruiting assumptions die hard, but here’s the reality: The Wild West has arrived on the Mid-Atlantic coast.
— Rob Harrington
Keep an eye on Mading
As the high school season approaches, a number of players will begin to emerge, especially underclassmen. One sophomore prospect we’ll be paying particularly close attention to is Daniel Mading of Gainesville (Fla.) The Rock School.
|Mading glides up and down the court|
A 6-foot-9 forward, Mading has legit size, a lengthy set of arms and impressive athleticism. He races end-to-end, moves his feet well and has some tools that lead you to believe he’s going to be a good offensive player as his high school career progresses.
“I just try to be a mismatch on the court with the bigs,” Mading recently told Scout.com. “I try to stretch the floor a lot and just help my team.”
— Evan Daniels
Ivanauskas shows his worth
It is a disappointing class in terms of talent for the state of Illinois in 2016. Usually, Illinois has one if not two or three blue chip recruits who everybody in the country wants. That is just not the case in 2016, so there has been a major question regarding who will emerge as the best prospect in the class in the state.
After seeing him this weekend at the NY2LA Future Stars Showcase, I think that answer might be Rapolas Ivanauskas. Ivanauskas is not someone I saw over the summer and it’s tough to get a great evaluation in a camp setting, but there is no doubting his talent.
Ivanauskas is right around 6-foot-8 and about 200 pounds with toughness and very nice athleticism. At this point he is more athletic than he is skilled, but his skill level is not bad. Ivanuaskas can handle the ball for his size, is a good passer and is a decent shooter, though his release is very slow.
With a little refinement there is no reason to think that Ivanauskas won't be a lock high-major recruit that nearly every program in the Midwest is after. Right now he is emerging as the best in the class in the state of Illinois, and is someone who will definitely be in the mix for top 100 status when the rankings are next updated.
— Brian Snow
Lehigh lands steal in Leufroy
Last season at La Canada (Calif.) St. Francis, 6-foot-2, 170-pound junior Kyle Leufroy emerged on the scene as a combo guard who should be heavily recruited at the mid-major level and monitored higher than that.
|The Mountain Hawks are thrilled to have Leufroy in tow|
A long and tough 2015 guard who could really pass it, the question with Leufroy was whether or not he could develop his handle enough to play full time at point guard at the next level. His vision made him intriguing at the one, but with just an okay handle you worried how he would do against ball pressure.
That said, Leufroy was a capable scorer - his best offense was his midrange pull-up - and was able to hit the open three or get to the basket and finish with contact or draw fouls. He was also a competitor who always played strong on the ball defense.
While Leufroy had an impressive summer playing for Earl Watson Elite, it wasn't enough to garner a ton of recruiting attention out West and he ultimately transferred to Napa (Calif.) Prolific Prep, soon after making a commitment to Lehigh.
Watching Leufroy recently for Prolific Prep, it's clear that Lehigh got an absolute steal. Leufroy's handle has improved to the point where you now feel confident with him running the one full time at the next level, and his passing ability has only expanded.
He's grown more and more comfortable running the point guard position and combine that with his scoring and defensive abilities, and you have a guy who should have an extremely successful career at Lehigh.
— Josh Gershon
Evan Daniels, Brian Snow, Josh Gershon and Rob Harrington contributed to this report