Jones sets first official visit
When Scout updates the 2016 top 10 in a few weeks, Andrew Jones will be among the biggest movers. Jones will likely move his way into the top 50. So it’s no surprise he’s racking up the scholarship offers. After the first July evaluation period, Jones added offers from Arizona, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Pittsburgh and Texas. He’s now added offers from Oklahoma, Louisville, Oregon and UNLV. Baylor, SMU, Alabama and others are also involved. Jones told Scout late Tuesday night that he plans to visit Arizona on August 10th. Baylor has a strong connection to Jones, as his sister -- Alexis Jones – transferred from Duke to Baylor last year and has two years of eligibility remaining starting this year.
Penn State set for something special?
After bringing in a quality class in 2015 headlined by four-star recruit Josh Reaves and high three-star recruit Mike Watkins, Penn State is looking at a potentially bumper crop in 2016. Already the Lions have two recruits in the fold in three-star prospects Nazeer Bostick and Joe Hampton, but the best could be yet to come. Word coming out of the July open period is that the Nittany Lions lead for four-star recruits Tony Carr and Lamar Stevens. Carr checks in at No. 39 in the 2016 rankings while Stevens is No. 90, a ranking that could definitely rise when they are updated. As if that weren’t enough, current three-star Dylan Painter, who could be bumped to four-star at the next update, is also very high on Penn State, and the Lions are considered in his top two or three at the moment. Penn State still has to close, but right now this is looking like if things break right, that Chambers and his staff will be one of the surprise schools to crack the top 25 team recruiting rankings.
Emerging McDaniels adding major offers
One of the most intriguing recruitments on the West Coast will belong to Jalen McDaniels, a 6-foot-9, 185-pound power forward out of Federal Way (Wash.). McDaniels needs to get stronger, but has all the tools to be a very good player in time and schools are taking notice as his offer list now includes Arizona State, Boise State, Nebraska and San Diego State. Since the end of the Evaluation Period, there have been five schools recruiting McDaniels the hardest - Arizona State, San Diego State, Washington, Texas and Wichita State. The latter two haven't offered, but are seriously considering him. Look for McDaniels to add to that offer list shortly, before moving forward with his recruitment.
The Battle for Bridges
Things seem to be heating up for five-star Miles Bridges. The Michigan native who had an absolutely tremendous July has narrowed down his list, but the reality is a few schools are feeling good about their chances, far better than the rest in fact. Right now all the buzz behind the scenes is that Kentucky is the clear team to beat for Bridges. There is no questioning that Bridges himself seems to favor the Wildcats, and in his mind they are clear team to beat. That said the close to home pull from Michigan State remains very real. In fact word is people in his hometown of Flint are pushing heavily for Bridges come back to the state and be a Spartan. While North Carolina is in this, and Indiana has a visit set up, and Bridges continues to list the Wolverines of Michigan, all signs point to this being a Wildcats v Spartans battle. Right now Bridges looks to be favoring the Wildcats, and there is reason for major optimism in Lexington, but getting a Flint kid away from Michigan State is never easy, and the Spartans are definitely rallying the troops around town to help get this momentum back in their direction.
Mathews prepares for visits
It looks to be a four-team race for 6-foot-2, 175-pound Santa Monica (Calif.) shooting guard Jonah Mathews. The four-star 2016 prospect has four programs aggressively pursuing him and has already set up official visits to two of them. Gonzaga, San Diego State, USC and Utah are the four schools which are competing for Mathews as of now and all have consistently been on him for at least the last few weeks. SDSU and USC could have the first two cracks at landing Mathews. He's set up an official visit to see the Aztecs on Aug. 29 and will be on USC's campus for an official on Sept. 18.
Giles plans early decision
Harry Giles, Scout’s top rated prospect, has his list narrowed to Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina and Wake Forest. The next step in his process is to begin taking official visits. He’s working on setting up those dates now and plans to take those trips in September. While we’ve seen the top rated players wait it out the past few years, it looks like Giles will end things during the early signing period, as he told Scout he plans to make a verbal commitment to a school prior to his final high school season. Giles has taken unofficial visits to all the schools on his list, except for Kansas.
Fultz is getting ready for visits
It has long been known that Markelle Fultz would make an official visit to Arizona, which will happen the second week of August. However that appears that it will not be his first official visit. Look for Fultz to make his first official trip to Louisville right at the beginning of the month following the adidas Nations event, though this isn’t quite finalized. The plan is for Fultz to “narrow” his list to about 10 soon with Kentucky, Ohio State, Xavier, Washington, Miami, North Carolina, and Maryland likely to join Arizona and Louisville. Another school will also make the cut, but that one will have a definite uphill climb, unless Duke comes forward with a scholarship offer after viewing him in July. From there Fultz will likely make at least four official visits, or possibly all five, before issuing his commitment. Despite an insistence on getting it over with quickly, the timeline for Fultz could extend all the way into October depending on if he also wants to make unofficial visits with his potential official visits.
School to beat emerging for Pritchard?
After decommitting from Oklahoma, there has been a long list of schools which have reached out to 6-foot-1, 180-pound West Linn (Ore.) point guard Payton Pritchard. The 2016 prospect has received phone calls from schools such as Arizona State, Baylor, California, Kansas, Louisville, Michigan, Oregon and Wisconsin. The favorite exiting the July Evaluation Period? This one isn't done, but local Oregon is believed to be in the best position to ultimately land Pritchard as of now.
Simmons still bound for Big Blue?
Growing up Kobi Simmons was very fond of the Kentucky Wildcats. In fact since he was a sophomore the rumble behind the scenes has been that if he was offered by Kentucky that is where he would end up, but that now doesn’t appear to be a slam dunk for the Wildcats. Multiple sources have said they do not feel Kentucky is the leader for Simmons. If he doesn’t end up in Lexington, the most likely destinations appear to be Ohio State or Xavier, two schools he has said he wants to visit officially for sure. Also Georgia is potentially in the mix as well and has the advantage of being close to home. Ohio State has the tradition of lottery picks from the guard position with D’Angelo Russell, Mike Conley, and Evan Turner. Xavier has his best friend already on the team in Kaiser Gates as well as the advantage of being located in Cincinnati where his dad is from and still has family. Georgia is the easiest commute, and they have been working very hard as well.
Bolden to narrow things, set up visits soon
Marques Bolden, a top 10 player in the 2016 class, is to cut his list of schools to seven and begin setting up his official visits. “I got all the schools I wanted.” Look for Bolden to take the next step in his recruitment in the next two weeks or so. The schools currently involved in Bolden’s recruitment include Kentucky, Kansas, Duke, North Carolina, Baylor, Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Alabama, UCLA and others. Bolden took an unofficial visit to Texas in early June.
All eyes in Midwest are on point guard position
Over the next month or so, and potentially even over the next two weeks, a lot of point guard dominos will likely fall, and most of them will be in the Midwest where a large group of schools are chasing the same guys. The biggest piece out there is Cassius Winston, but he appears to be the one taking the most time in the process. Winston has visits planned in August and September with Michigan and Michigan State appearing to be the clear co-leaders heading into those visits. With Michigan and Michigan State appearing to be set to wait on Winston, look for Charlie Moore, Xavier Simpson, Te'Jon Lucas, and Quentin Goodin to really ramp up their processes and focus on the schools that have offered. While he won’t admit it publicly, Simpson has August visits set to Purdue (though this one could get cancelled), Iowa State, and Illinois (in that order), though Xavier remains the leader coming out of July. Moore could speed up his process with Illinois gaining momentum, though Iowa is right there in the mix as well. Lucas recently was offered by Illinois and Purdue, though Iowa has really picked things up as well, and the loser of the Moore and Simpson sweepstakes likely will really step things up with Lucas. Add in Goodin, who will visit Xavier this weekend, and things could begin to take shape soon. What is unknown is how these players will all react when the commitments start coming. Will one guy’s decision set off a domino effect with quick decisions or will the rest of the prospects continue to bide their time.
Hands entering key recruiting stretch
One 2017 recruitment which you can expect to end sooner than later is that of San Diego point guard Jaylen Hands. The 6-foot-2, 160-pound five-star prospect has been the subject of a tug-of-war between Arizona and UCLA for the last several months, with California, San Diego State and Stanford remaining involved. UCLA has Hands surrounded with two of his AAU teammates committed - Ike Anigbogu and Jalen Hill - along with the obvious adidas affiliation of his AAU team, the Compton Magic. Arizona will try to neutralize some of those advantages when Hands visits UA's campus on Aug. 7. That will be the Wildcats' big opportunity to land Hands because every day that goes by after that visit, UCLA will become harder to beat.
Hurley’s first class looking good
Bobby Hurley and his new staff at Arizona State are off to a strong recruiting start. The Sun Devils already have a pair of top 100 prospects pledged to play in Tempe, Arizona. Sam Cunliffe, a shooter with good size and athleticism, committed in June. Then on Tuesday, they followed it up by reeling in Jethro Tshisumpa, the No. 80 overall recruit in the 2016 class. Tshisumpa is a defensive specialist. He rebounds in and out and of his area and impacts the game by getting to shots. ASU assistant Brian Merritt deserves some credit for helping reel in both. Merritt’s time with John Lucas helped him develop strong ties in the grassroots circuit and it’s paying off. But ASU isn’t done, as they have targeted and seem to be in great shape with five-star Thon Maker and four-star wing Mario Kegler.
Will Duke get the top class?
Will Duke do it again? Kentucky signed the top recruiting class for five straight years, before the Blue Devils snatched the top spot the past two years. Thus far, Duke looks primed to be either in or very near that position again. Duke has already picked up a pledge from Jayson Tatum, Scout’s No. 3 prospect, and many consider them the leader for Harry Giles, although he hasn’t admitted it. They also appear to be great shape with Frank Jackson, who visited in June, Marques Bolden and have recently upped their recruitment of July emerging power forward Wenyen Gabriel. Kentucky will certainly have something to say regarding this issue and I’d bet even though their only pledge is New Zeland big man Tai Wynyard. The race will come down to the Cats and Blue Devils. Kentucky is strongly involved with Miles Bridges, Malik Monk, Sacha Killeya-Jones, Harry Giles, Kobi Simmons, Markelle Fultz and a host of others. Brian Snow, Josh Gershon, and Evan Daniels contributed to this report