If all goes as planned this weekend, the Rebels could soon add their second.
Ole Miss is set to host four-star guard Devontae Shuler for an official visit, the last for the 6-foot-2, 170-pound Shuler, who is down to Ole Miss, Oklahoma State and South Carolina. Shuler visited Ole Miss unofficially in July. He currently has no further visits scheduled.
“He’s mainly down to three schools: Ole Miss, Oklahoma State and South Carolina,” Oak Hill (Va.) High School head coach Steve Smith said. “So it hasn’t been too bad. He had some other schools, but I don’t think he’s going to visit anybody else. Never say never, but as of right now, we have no other visits set up after the Ole Miss visit. He could make a decision soon if he wanted to. He could wait a little bit. I don’t know. I’m all for my guys getting it over with ‘cause I’ve got about five or six of them in here getting recruited. It’s been hectic for me more than them.”
Shuler is a consensus four-star prospect across all recruiting services, and he’s ranked the No. 100 overall player in the country by Scout.com. He helped lead Oak Hill to a 45-1 record as a junior last season, including a win in the Dick’s Sporting Goods National Championship Tournament.
Smith said Shuler has played things close to the vest through the process, but two schools have recruited him harder than the rest.
“I’d say Ole Miss and Oklahoma State have recruited him the hardest,” he said. “They’ve been in here multiple times. (Ole Miss head) Coach (Andy) Kennedy’s been in here, his assistants have been in here. So has Oklahoma State. They’ve been in here, probably, three times during this period in September and early-October here. But Ole Miss has done the same. Rarely does a week go by that they don’t stick their head in the gym. They’ve recruited him hard. He went down for an unofficial in the summer with his sister before he came back to Oak Hill in the fall. They spent a day down there. Ole Miss is the only place he’s been to more than once, and this will be, obviously, his official visit.
“He lives in Columbia, so he’s been on South Carolina’s campus a lot, but he seems to want to get away from home a little bit. Oklahoma State’s a long way from home. Ole Miss is closer, obviously, and that may be in their favor; I’m not sure. I know he likes the coaches at Ole Miss. He likes coach Kennedy a lot. They have a good relationship. I’m sure he’s going to have a good weekend coming up.”
Smith is one of the most decorated prep coaches in the country. He’s won eight national championships in his some 30-plus-year coaching career, and he’s coached 31 NBA players and 29 McDonald’s All-Americans.
Shuler, though, stands out.
“I think he’d be great there,” Smith said of Shuler’s potential fit at Ole Miss. “I watched (Marshall) Henderson play there, I watched (Stefan) Moody play there. Devontae can score. He’s a volume guy, volume scorer. He can shoot the 3, and he’s got a great pull-up game — 1-2, dribble pull-up. He gets to the rim. What I like about him is he plays on both ends of the floor. He likes to play defense. Most guys will play defense because it keeps them on the floor, but he plays defense because he likes it. He’s a lockdown on-the-ball defender. As good as I’ve ever had, and I’ve had some good ones. If an opposing team has a really good point guard, we put Devontae on him to disrupt their offense. He really gets down in his stance and guards. I don’t know if I’ve had a defender like him. He’s only 6-2, but he can really get after it defensively. That makes him that much better. A lot of guys can put the ball in the basket, but on the other end of the floor they don’t like to play. He plays all 94 feet.”
Shuler shot 49 percent from the field and 39 precent from 3 in the 2016 EYBL. He averaged over 12 points per game and almost three rebounds.
“He hasn’t said much,” Smith said. “I know when he came back from Oklahoma State he said he really liked it and had a great visit. I knew they were going to be a factor. That was after the South Carolina visit. I felt at that time (Oklahoma State) was maybe ahead of everybody else. But now Ole Miss has got this visit, and if he doesn’t take anymore visits, this could be his last visit. He could take some more, but we don’t have anything set up. He’s talking about getting it over with.
“I think with most of these guys (the recruitment process) is starting to wear on them a little bit. They get bombarded all the time with texts and talking to coaches. It just kind of gets old after a while. Most of my guys said they were going to sign late, now they’re all talking about signing early. I told them that’s what it’s going to be like. That’s how it’s been (me) having done this for 30-plus years up here. It kind of wears on the kids, and I always tell them if you find a place you like, you better jump on it. You’re not the only guy they’re recruiting. All these schools are recruiting other players, so if somebody pops and they get a guard, you’re out. There’s no sense in stringing this out. If you know where you’re going to go or if you find a place you want to go to, I encourage them to do it. I’ve had guys who lost out on schools they wanted to go to because they waited. Coaches are trying to sign kids. They want to know they’ve got their roster filled for the following year, that if they’ve got a hole in their lineup, they’ve got it filled. Devontae knows these schools are recruiting other players, too. He knows Ole Miss, Oklahoma State, he’s high priority for those schools. He’s first choice. He knows that. They’ve told him that. That’s a good thing. But I think he’s getting close to making a decision.”