July is Key

In most locales July is labeled the hottest month of the summer. The same can be said about the world of recruiting. The all-important month is just around the corner and we talked to Scout.com's National Recruiting Director, Dave Telep for some insight on what to watch for in July.

The pressure mounts during this important evaluation period where the first two weeks are clearly the most critical. To make an impact it’s imperative to get off to a good start so pay attention to the names you hear early on in the month as the action gets underway July 5th.

Make Or Break

“July can be a make or break month for a lot of guys,” said Telep.

“Players are basically in two categories at this point: 1) guys who have scholarships and 2) guys who want scholarships,” Telep continued.

For the class of 2006, the top tier names probably sleep a little easier in July. Guys like Darrell Arthur, Thaddeus Young, and Spencer Hawes, to name a few, will get their scholarships and have the luxury of choosing from a long list of pristine schools. For this elite group, they’ll be listening to programs who want to make a strong push for their services.   

But there are plenty of other kids with work to do in July. Players who don’t have scholarship offers will try to grab the attention of the high profile coaches in attendance.

“Kids are being evaluated and will be either offered or crossed off lists during the month,” stated Telep.

It can be unnerving. One bad game or one poor outing could mean the difference be the difference between an offer and hearing nothing. Conversely sometimes it takes just one impressive display to command more attention.

For others, a busy spring and hectic summer may not be as stressful. Those players who are already committed or feature a list “set in stone” can just relax and play.

A perfect example of this is 6-10 junior Bryce Webster of Saint Thomas Academy (Mendota Heights, MN) who has solidified a list of 4 prospective schools.

“I think for some kids it’s very important. To the kids who haven’t really received a lot of interest or haven’t really set their list of schools up,” Webster continued. “Like for me, I’m not saying it’s less important but maybe I am….because we already have our schools set in stone and like they already know all of our potential.”

“I’ve talked to them (4 schools) and they say if you mess up it’s not a big deal we already know what you can do,” Webster explained. “We know what’s in you. I think with some kids who already have their school picked out it’s not as much pressure.”

Expect A New Name To Enter the Mix

One of the better examples of a fresh face who burst on the scene last summer was Lewis Clinch. The 6-2 shooting guard from Cordele, Georgia had minimal interest prior to the spring and the 3 major shoe camps virtually ignored him. By the end of the summer, he was labeled as one of the best prospects NOT invited to a major shoe camp. Clinch was disappointed but effectively used the snub as motivation. 

Prior to the spring Clinch had offers from Georgia, Auburn, Furman and Mercer. By the end of the summer, after tearing up the AAU circuit, Duke, Florida, Kansas, Wake Forest and Georgia Tech were all interested.

Trimming The List

For many members of the class of ’06, July is the month they’ll trim that long list of schools.

Recruits like Memphis, Tennessee’s 6-8 small forward Thaddeus Young (scout.com’s #2 ranked small forward) feature a list of possible schools a mile long and Young has claimed the recruiting process to be “wide open”. For Young, the goal is to take the list down to a more manageable number by the end of July.

Same goes for the highly coveted center from Seattle, Washington Spencer Hawes who’s already stated he’s in no hurry to make a decision and wants to go through the process.

Though we may not hear a decision from players like Young and Hawes anytime soon, rest assured July will go a long way in their decision-making process.

“July is the month that basically sets up the fall,” Telep informed us. “Where kids visit, who offers them and how hard programs push is determined, in large, by the way they play against their peers over the course of four weeks.”

A New Twist

Hot off the presses the newly stated 19-year old NBA age restriction (more on this later in the week) certainly puts a new spin on things. July just got A LOT more interesting. Some high-level talent will likely be wearing a college uniform, at least for one year.

I can guarantee there were a bunch of college basketball coaches who woke up Wednesday morning with an extra spring in their step, and justifiably so.

Game on! Coaches will now vie for the services of talented players like Greg Oden, who’s always said he’d probably attend college, Brandan Wright and Darrell Arthur -- None of these top talents from the class of 2006 will be able to jump directly to the NBA. Prior to yesterday’s announcement there was always that lingering doubt about whether these players would actually don a college uniform. One thing is certain – they won’t be wearing a pro jersey in 2006-2007.

So expect to see some serious jockeying for position with these recruits during the month of July. Now is the time for schools like Kansas to make their push.

Brandan Wright, the talented power forward from Brentwood, Tennessee earlier in June stated nothing would change recruiting-wise for him until after the NBA age limit becomes clearer. Well, the age limit is clear and you can expect things to change.

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