LONG BEACH, Calif. -- If you’re Tom Izzo, you’re thinking long and hard this summer about Jabari Parker (Chicago, Ill./Simeon). Parker’s the top target of the Michigan State Spartans but he’s not the only Chicago kid Izzo wants. Fast forward a year and Cliff Alexander (Chicago, Ill./Curie), along with Tyus Jones (Apple Valley, Minn./Apple Valley), are on the hit list.
How’s Izzo doing in Chicago? So far, so good. At the Pangos All-American Camp last weekend, Alexander went ahead and deemed Michigan State his leader. In case you missed it, Alexander was named MVP of the camp -- so leading for one of the Class of 2014’s premiere talents isn’t a bad thing at all. However, Izzo knows recruiting is not much different than bull riding. The other schools are going to try and buck the leader right off the bull.
In addition to the Spartans, look for heavy Alexander traffic to come from Illinois, DePaul, Indiana, Florida, Providence and Ohio State.
At this point on the calendar, expect school lists to be fairly lengthy with a few exceptions. Some players readily cough up the goods and name their leader. Others understand that July is merely pole position for the big races that happen in August and through the fall. Heading into July, the strategy is to get on the list and gradually pick off the guy in front of you so you’re one of the five standing for official fall visits.
Zach LaVine (Bothell, Wash./Bothell) is the son of a former NFL football player who was drafted in the MLB draft. Paul LaVine is from San Bernardino and his son might wind up playing hoops in California. Zach made no bones about which his leader is, citing the UCLA Bruins. The point guard said he’s got plenty of relatives in the area. “They’re my obvious No. 1,” LaVine said. Louisville, Arizona, Washington, Memphis and Missouri were mentioned.
Missouri is unlikely to get LaVine and that’s OK. They’re strong with another point guard. Frank Haith’s been working over a Texan, ESPN 100 guard Kendal Harris (Richardson, Tex./Berkner). Harris, whose brother plays for the Miami Heat, said Mizzou was on him harder than anyone.
Another Texan, ESPN 100 center Karviar Shephard (Arlington, Tex./Grace Prep) has UCLA, Kansas, USC, Texas A&M, Louisville, Georgetown and Gonzaga on his list. The last stud big men from the same AAU program -– Urban DFW -– have gone to Kansas (Durrell Arthur), Bobo Morgan (UCLA/Baylor) and Texas A&M (Keith Davis).
ESPN 100 (and rising) power forward Jermaine Lawrence (Springfield Gardens, N.Y./Pope John XXIII) gives props to St. John’s, his hometown school. Florida, Syracuse, Kansas, Rutgers and Cincinnati also are mentioned.
Jonathan Williams (Memphis, Tenn./Westwind), an ESPN 100 standout, has a brother who plays for George Mason and they’re close. Enter Georgetown, a school not too far from Mason and is a contender for Williams. So are Arkansas, Memphis, Tennessee, Alabama, Michigan State, Florida, Texas, UCLA, Louisville and Kentucky. Williams is nervous about June 15, when schools can text and call with no restrictions. “They’re like girlfriends,” Williams said. “It’s going to be frustrating.” Footnote: if Williams has as many girlfriends as he does schools on his list, juggling the relationships will definitely be cumbersome.
ESPN 100 guard Jaron Hopkins (Chandler, Ariz./Basha) said Sean Miller’s Wildcats have been on him since his freshman season. Recruiting traffic is provided by Washington State, Auburn, Kansas, Colorado and Penn State.
ESPN 100 power forward Hunter Myers(Minden, Nev./Douglass) indicated recent interest from Arizona. Harvard’s on him the hardest with Stanford and Cal talking to him. Later this month he’ll get out his Stanford application and begin that process.
2014 School lists
ESPN 60 power forward Payton Dastrup (Mesa, Ariz./Mountain View) can play. When I say play, I mean play for anybody. Arizona State, UC-Davis and Utah State sprinted out of the gates in his recruitment. They better watch out because the Carl Lewises of the world are going to want to track them down. However, there’s a hitch in this whole deal. Dastrup is Mormon and he’s taking his mission. BYU, according to the junior, hasn’t been on him hard … yet. If you’re a big powerhouse program such as Arizona, how much time should you invest in him? We’ll find out soon because he’s going to be white-hot come July.
Namon Wright (Los Angeles, Calif./Pacific Hills) played a grand total of seven games last season and averaged 22 points. You can say he’s flying under the radar but the dude lives in L.A. so sooner or later the genie shall emerge from the bottle. Gonzaga and New Mexico State offered. Florida State, Stanford and Southern Cal know all about him.