NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. -- Jabari Parker’s travel team, Mac Irvin Fire, is at the Nike EYBL Peach Jam. The only problem is Parker, the nation’s top senior, isn’t with them. Parker’s back home in Chicago taking care of a broken foot that limited him during last month’s USA Basketball gold-medal run.
Even though Parker, the top target of most of the basketball powerhouses in the country, isn’t here, DePaul head coach Oliver Purnell is at the tournament. Not only is Purnell recruiting Parker with everything he has, he’s trying to get kids from both the Chicago teams -- Mac Irvin Fire and Meanstreets -- at the Peach Jam. The Blue Demons are after at least a half-dozen kids between the two programs, and that means the DePaul staff has been omnipresent.
DePaul has been going “three-deep” or “full staff,” meaning the head coach and two assistants -- all of the allowable personnel on the road at once -- sit front and center each time either team plays. It’s basically a recruiting show of force aimed at letting the kids know exactly how bad the program wants them. In this case, DePaul is looking to parlay this month into commitments, or at the least official visits for the fall. Guys such as Kendrick Nunn (Chicago/Simeon), Sterling Brown (Maywood, Ill./Proviso East), junior Jahlil Okafor (Chicago/Whitney Young), Gavin Schilling (Chicago/DeLaSalle) and junior Paul White (Chicago/Whitney Young) are amongst the targets. Billy Garrett Jr. (Chicago/Morgan Park) is the son of assistant Billy Garrett and is already committed.
Sending three coaches means there are no other staffers at any other venue. It’s a powerful message, and the Blue Demons aren’t alone in using the technique.
John Calipari doesn’t recruit many players. Kentucky keeps its list exclusive and, in turn, manageable. At an event of this magnitude, Calipari may spend an entire day then fly somewhere else for a time, but he’s coming back to be seen. When he has been at the Peach Jam, he often has been flanked by two assistants. UK went three-deep for Julius Randle (Dallas/Prestonwood) and James Young (Troy, Mich./Troy). It also rolled out the technique for the nation’s No. 1 junior, Andrew Wiggins (Toronto/Huntington Prep).
UK, FSU battling for Wiggins
Speaking of Wiggins, UK’s primary competition is Florida State, the program his father played at. Like UK, Florida State flexed its recruiting muscle. As Cal’s crew sat along the sideline for Wiggins’ game, Leonard Hamilton’s guys -- the head coach and two assistants -- sat baseline . Two high-level programs deployed all their resources for the day to be seen by Wiggins and others, but in FSU’s case, mainly Wiggins. Six coaches, two staffs for one player. That’s a statement.
Nunn keeping it open
Kendrick Nunn (Chicago/Simeon), once committed to Texas A&M, is still considering the Aggies but said he wants to take fall official visits to warm-weather destinations UCLA and Florida State. DePaul’s right there and he’s considering a host of others, including Missouri, Marquette, Memphis, Nebraska, Providence, UIC and Illinois.
Broman heating up quickly
Andres Broman (Duluth, Minn./Lakeview Christian) is the talk of the tournament because he can knock down 3-pointers. During the EYBL regular season, he was one of the event’s elite shooters, and it comes as no surprise he shot 45 percent from behind the arc during his high school season. Broman’s stock is going to heat up. Kent State and South Dakota State were schools he mentioned, but there are others and there will be more. “I’m just waiting to see who’s really interested,” he said.
Perry traded pitching for rebounding
Imagine a 6-foot-9 right-hander staring down at you from the pitcher's mound. A few years ago, that was Chris Perry (Bartow, Fla./Bartow). He tossed it to the catcher at around 80 mph, fast but not blazing. Somehow he managed to find basketball, and this summer has been a great ride. Nearly a double-double on Friday night with head coaches from Cincinnati, Memphis and South Florida in the gym. He’s turned a hunger to get better into a high-major scholarship.
Scholarship goes to ...
Rene Castro (Milton, Mass./Worcester Academy) is here playing for BABC, but the roster isn’t quite what Castro imagined it would be. Nerlens Noel changed classes or he would have been the center. Wayne Selden is (Boston/Tilton School) no longer with the team, and Goodluck Okonoboh (Boston/Tilton School) wasn’t there on Friday. All this turmoil left Castro with the task of putting his finger in the dam. So far he has been outstanding in a combo role here. George Washington and Pittsburgh like him, and he’s reciprocating.