There’s what you see and what you hear and then there’s what it all means. The EYBL and similar events, affords one the opportunity to interact with the prospects and get to know them. It’s good old-fashioned communication, human interaction, talking not texting.
When you communicate with players at events, you put a face to the name and have a chance to add to your evaluation. It may be only a few minutes, but the conversation is a window into the life of the player, albeit only a peek. At this time of the year, much of the talk centers on recruiting and how the process is unfolding.
The spring is a dance. Players are constantly hearing from coaches and the coaches attempt to keep the players “warm” as they finish up their evaluations both on and off the court. Over the next few months, leading up to July, coaches and players alike will formulate and prioritize their lists. Here’s a glimpse into what some of the players had to say last weekend.
The big fish emerging from the EYBL is wing James Young (Troy, Mich./Mich.). Kansas, Kentucky and Ohio State are thick in there. Michigan State would be the in-state option.
There’s much chatter regarding shooting guard JaJuan Johnson (Memphis, Tenn./Southwind). A breakout national effort will ramp up his offers. Memphis, Tennessee, Cincinnati, Marquette, Arkansas, Louisville, Texas, Auburn and Florida rolled off his tongue.
Center Moses Kingsley (New Albany, Miss./New Albany) arrived in the U.S. a year and a half ago from Nigeria. It hasn’t taken him long to become a priority for programs including Louisville, Florida, much of the SEC and Mississippi State. Ole Miss is also involved. Kingsley couldn’t watch hoops in Nigeria due to the time difference but says he’s a junkie now.
Semi Ojeleye (Ottawa, Kan./Ottawa) knocked down his jumpers but won’t be able to cut down his list anytime soon. UCLA, Wisconsin, Oregon, Kansas State and Stanford rank high. Ojeleye said he’d have some food for thought if Duke or North Carolina entered the picture.
The flavor of the month of April is big man Marcus Lee (Antioch, Calif./Deer Valley). A stud student, Lee has Duke, Stanford and Cal on him. Tom Crean didn’t miss a game last weekend so Indiana appears committed to entering the race as well.
Nick King (Memphis, Tenn./East) will have his pick of schools. The candidates – not all have offered yet – are Memphis, Tennessee, Arkansas, Missouri, Vanderbilt, North Carolina, Florida and Texas A&M.
Watch out for this guy: Damian Jones (Baton Rouge, La./Scotlandville Magnet). He’s the prototypical not-ready-for-prime time late developing big man with a perfect 4.0 GPA. Offers include Oklahoma, St. John’s and Tulane. Florida and Vanderbilt are onto him and his phone is ringing right now as you read this post.
Shot swatter Jimmie Taylor (Greensboro, Ala./Greensboro) said Alabama and Georgetown indicated they must have him. Illinois, Georgia Tech and Louisville were also on the tip of his tongue.
The one statistic that holds the most weight with me is rebounding. Luke Worthington (Mequon, Wisc./Homestead) can board. The Ivy and Patriot leagues want him with Penn, Lehigh and Bucknell leading the charge. Toledo and Bowling Green like him.
Matt Howard (Columbia, S.C./Flora) was a key wing target of the previous staff at South Carolina. Interestingly enough, he’s in the wind with the Gamecocks as he hasn’t spoken to the new staff. Harvard and Stanford offered. Bright kid; honestly, I was totally intimidated by his intelligence.
2013 shooting guard Sterling Brown (Chicago, Ill./Proviso East) owns offers from Illinois, Nebraska, Northwestern and DePaul. Michigan State, Xavier, Providence, Marquette and Tennessee are looking.
Chris Perry (Bartow, Fla./Bartow) is a sleeper big man. Virginia, Boston University, South Florida, Tennessee and Central Florida have him on their board.
Speaking of smart guys, shooting ace Clay Byrd (Connelly Springs, N.C./East Burke) owns an offer from Mercer. Will Davidson, who is looking, put an offer on the table?
My favorite interviewee last weekend was power forward Darien Williams (Orange, Calif./Lutheran). Here’s a guy that loves life and loves to laugh. “The No. 1 thing I do for my team is bring energy,” Williams said. “I have ADHD so I bring energy.” Portland State, San Jose State and Santa Clara like him.
Larry Dennis (Wichita, Kan./East) is a power forward on the radar of Western Kentucky and Denver.