More and more positional versatility is a trait that college coaches look for on the recruiting trail. One of the class of 2017 kids with the most versatility is Nojel Eastern. The 6-foot-5 Eastern can play nearly anywhere in the backcourt, and a host of schools made sure to track him during April.
“Of course I can always do better, but overall I think I have been playing well and fairly consistent,” said Eastern of his spring. “I missed the whole summer last year, so I missed some development, so I am still putting in a lot of work.”
On the recruiting trail Eastern said he noticed a lot of head coaches watching him during April, and numerous schools have stayed consistent with their recruitment of him.
“Coach Tom Izzo, Coach Thad Matta, Coach Kevin Willard from Seton Hall, Coach Chris Mack from Xavier, Coach John Groce from Illinois, Coach Matt Painter from Purdue, there were a lot of coaches tracking me in April,” noted Eastern.
One school that has long been mentioned with Eastern is Michigan State. The Spartans have had Eastern on the radar for a while, and they continue to make a positive impression on him.
“Tom Izzo is one of the biggest college coaching names there is,” said Eastern of the Spartans. “At our high school we run the same offense as Michigan State. If I did come to Michigan State I would come in with a little advantage of just knowing the sets. Coach Izzo has been recruiting me very hard, and they remain one of my options.”
Another Big Ten school, Ohio State, has also picked things up quite a bit recently, and the Buckeyes think Eastern fits right in to what they like to do.
“They have had good point guards in the past,” said Eastern. “They have talked about Mike Conley, D’Angelo Russell, and JaQuan Lyle, and have they had freedom to create within the offense. That is a big thing for me, to have freedom to make plays. I like to create for others, and that is what they would let me do.”
Xavier has been involved with Eastern for a while now, and the Musketeers are a school that Eastern made sure to watch during the college season.
“I think Coach (Luke) Murray is one of the best recruiters out there,” explained Eastern. “He and Coach Mack have been consistent with me for a while. It is a smaller school, but basketball wise they have been consistent. I watched them during the year and their guards have the freedom to make plays for themselves and others, and they are a school I have big interest in right now.”
One of the interesting things with Eastern is he can reasonably be viewed as a point guard, shooting guard, or small forward. For a while Eastern always focused on being a point guard, but now he says he is open to anything.
“Some colleges tell me I could strictly play one,” Eastern explained. “Some say I could play the one, two or three. Honestly I have no problem with that. The more positions you play the longer you are on the floor.”
At this point Eastern says he wants to narrow down his school list during the summer, and potentially make a visit or two following the USA Basketball trials in the month of June.
After Eastern makes some visits he will then look to make a decision.