My second caveat is that I am hardly always right so make your own conclusions based on what I provide. A lot of this is sort of reading between the lines of what players are saying, recruiters are saying, and what visits are starting to shape up.
Here are my general thoughts on where we stand in regards to basketball recruiting for 2004-2005.
6'9 Alade Aminu - 4/5
6'7 Michael Johnson (FB) - 4
Alade will likely become a key member of our rotation over time. A great athlete whose game is developing. Should help defensively right away and become more of an offensive force as he develops.
Johnson if he does play basketball will likely be a deep reserve, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. You never know when you might need someone to step up for 5 or 10 minutes due to an injury, bad game, etc.
As for the rest of the class we appear focused on trying to sign 4 more. I could see an outside chance of signing 5 more if all our A list guys fell to us but that appears unlikely.
The general needs we are looking to fill are as follows.
1. Combo Guard
At least one of these needs to be able to play some PG and at least one needs to be a good shooter.
3. Combo Forward
4. Big man
The combo forward could end up being more of a 4/3 or a 3/4, just depending upon who commits. The big could be a true center or more of a 4/5.
In past years Hewitt has given our top choices at each position of need some time to go through their recruiting process and then if they reach a certain date and still haven't made a decision the 'ship is available to other prospects as from a staff standpoint it is more important to fill the need then to always get your first choice. The date for this right now appears to be Oct 1st (more on that later).
Here is a look (not necessarily exhaustive) of the players we are most actively involved with.
6'2 Lewis Clinch (offer)- Our obvious #1 target for the combo guard 'ship. GA boy who is an extremely dangerous scorer and solid ball handler. Will visit GT Aug 28, with trips to Wake Sept 10 and UGA Sept 17th. GT and Wake are his top 2. This will be a tight battle between the two ACC schools with UGA trying to hang in.
6'5 Chris Douglas-Roberts (offer?) - Likely our top backup for either perimeter 'ship. Very athletic guard that can play all three perimeter positions. The weakest shooter of our perimeter prospects but the best ball handler and able to get to the rim. Currently lists 7 schools - GT, MI, MI ST, AZ, OK, Miami, Memphis though his only scheduled visit so far is to GT on Oct 2. He seems to be mentioning GT, OK, and Miami consistently.
6'6 Calvin Miles (offer) - A likely McDonald's AA. Most versatile guard prospect. Can play all three perimeter positions. Excellent ball handler and shooter. Very team oriented. Three horse race - Kansas, AZ, and GT in that order. Has a visit set to AZ sep 10. Will likely make visits to Kansas and GT and then make a decision. Right now I would put GT's odds at no better than 20%. Distance from home appears to be a factor.
6'4 Harvey Hale (offer) - Very much a Hewitt style guard. Excellent shooter (though not off the dribble), good defensive skills, athletic, team player, so-so ball handler. Top of list appears to be Wake (leader), GT, ARK, DePaul, OK. A likely Oct visitor if we miss on two of the three above. IMO the team that misses on Clinch has a very strong shot at landing Hale.
If we get fewer than 2 of the 4 listed above then names like Humphrey, Grant, and possibly Sapp (hasn't taken SAT yet so can take official visits) could pop up.
This is sort of a funny position as it could go to more of a PF or more of a SF depending upon who is most interested in us. I think the staff preference is probably for more of a 4/3, but we might end up with a 3/4.
6'8 Kevin Rogers (offer) - Our top target as a package with Miles. He will visit GT on Sept 3, AZ on Sep 10 and Kansas on Sep 25. He looks to be a heavy lean to Kansas right now. Would be a prototypical 4/3 with the size to play the 4 but the athleticism to play some three as his skills advance. Like Miles I would say no better than 20% chance.
6'8 Brandon Costner (offer?) - Currently has a top 6 of UConn, NC ST, UCLA, GT, Kansas, and Seton Hall. He is expected to cut his list to three in the next 2 weeks. NC ST and UConn are his rumored leaders so there may be one spot left, GT may have the inside track to that. Very versatile 4 that can score from in close or from outside. Nice offensive game with a lot of upside. We should know more in a couple of weeks.
6'7 Korvotney Barber (no offer) - GA big man saw his recruiting skyrocket this Spring. Incredible athlete with a somewhat raw game. Not much outside 5 feet but uses his strength and athleticism well inside. GT has backed off somewhat due to his academics. Right now it appears Auburn leads UGA and TN with KY sniffing around as well. Sort of a wait and see situation for GT right now.
The next couple of players are more 3/4 that could end up filling either the combo forward spot or possibly the wing.
6'7 Lawrence Kinnard (offer) - Has seen his recruiting skyrocket since having a huge spring and good summer. Athletic wing forward from Memphis who has some shooting ability. Miami, FSU, GT, NC ST, VT, Miss, Memphis all supposedly involved. Haven't seen a cut down list yet.
6'8 Casaan Breeden (offer?) - Athletic combo forward whose recruitment has seem to come full circle. 6 weeks ago he was saying it was time to get out from under Dickey's shadow (they have played together since the 8th grade), but now GT appears to be rising again on his list. Current list is Miami (offer), St. John's (offer), GT (no offer), NC ST (no offer), and UGA (?). He has visits scheduled for Miami Sep 4, GT Oct 1, and UGA Oct 8. He has said that Miami and St. John's had been recruiting him the hardest. In a article last week he stated that academics and playing time would be the 2 main factors - wants to major in mathematics and teaching. He said GT and NC ST were the top 2 academic schools on his list. Also said he has always dreamed of playing in the ACC. Hinted that NC ST and GT would move to the top of his list if they offer.
6'7 Octavious Spann (no offer) - Spann's recruiting has cooled off somewhat. He would love to stay local but academics may be a ?. Rumored current list includes AL, Clemson, Cincy.
6'11 Andrew 'Lee' Bynum (offer) - Big man from NJ looks to be narrowing his focus. Built very similar to Brendan Haywood and just 16 yrs old. NBA may be an option in the Spring if he keeps developing like he has the last 3 months. He has a visit scheduled to UNC for Midnight Madness on Oct 15. Also rumored to be headed to UGA on Oct 1. His brother says visits to UConn and GT are being finalized this week. Has 3 basketball friends who have all committed to Rutgers. Appears to have a two tier list with UConn and UNC on tier 1 and GT, UGA, Rutgers on tier 2.
6'11 Eric Boateng (offer) - long considered a Duke lean, He is currently back in England with his family deciding whether to take some official visits. Has been a little up and down this summer but a lot of potential. When he returns from England he will either commit to Duke or take official visits to GT and BC before deciding. Have to think Duke looks good here, but they haven't locked him up yet.
6'9 Cyrus McGowan (offer) - Big man who really improved this summer and elevated his stock. Intelligent individual who has 9 relatives who have attended Miss St. Wants to major in Architecture. Very athletic and is more a back to the basket 5 than a 4. Good defender. Says Miss ST and GT lead with Miami close and he would commit to UNC if they offered but will not wait on them to offer. Recent comments by mom suggests GT has a real chance. He will get an official visit to GT.
6'7 Charles Jackson (FB offer) - Two sport star who will likely have to choose between FB and BB as his positions don't really allow for playing both effectively. Prefers basketball but is a bigger football prospect. As Dave Telep described him a high major body whose recruiting will start at the mid-major level and go up from there. If GT offers he is very likely to accept. He is close friends with Lewis Clinch and Korvotney Barber. GT, UGA, and Auburn are his top 3.
With CDR and Breeden set to visit Oct 1st that suggests our #1 targets will likely visit in Sep and then have until beginning of Oct to make a decision before the 'ships will be offered to other players. This is pretty typical for Hewitt. Last year he had Oguchi scheduled for Oct 4 and Morrow committed on Oct 2. Three years earlier he had Deron Williams coming in at the end of Sep and Jack committed 1 day before the visit. Once a player makes an official visit you can expect that he is leaving with a firm offer on the table if he wants it.
One thing to keep in mind is that the staff's board does not always match up to the recruiting services boards. The staff has to way things like academics, personality, skill sets and what our needs are.
A school can bring in 12 official visitors per year so that is something to keep an eye on. If a player is scheduled for an official visit it means there is real interest on both sides and that the staff believes there is a compelling reason to bring them in.
I am not going to refer to some of the prospects as plan B guys, because it is not fair to characterize a top 50-75 talent as a plan B guy. What we have is a list of prospects and a likely general order for how the staff sees them.
I feel generally satisfied with where we are. Hewitt is something of a slow recruiter as he really likes to get to know the players and their families, so he takes his time in his recruitments. If we get one of our top 2 choices for each of the 'ships we are talking about a class of almost exclusively top 50 players. Even if we have to drop to our 3 or 4 choices we are still talking about all top 100 talents. So we have positioned ourselves to have anywhere from a very good to great recruiting class depending upon how some decisions go.