There's no better time than the present to learn about prospects. In this business, if you're not in information-gathering mode and learning on a daily basis, you're not pulling your weight (my suitcase goes from trunk to the laundry room and back into the car for the next trip) and our staff has been in gyms from coast to coast.
Since March 24, here are a few questions that have been answered and a handful more that need to be addressed:
2013 recruit rankings wide open
Our ESPN 60 will switch over to the ESPN 100 on May 24 and we badly need to update the list. Having said that, we need a deeper pool of candidates for the top 25 slots. We’re going to be stingy graders but regardless, spots have to be filled and right now, the door is wide open for movement. Numerous members of our current ESPN 60 have not played up to their reputations and their spots are being contested on a weekly basis.
Amongst the guys rated outside our current top 25, point guard Demetrius Jackson (Mishawaka, Ind./Marian), shooting guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes (Toronto, Can./Huntington Prep), Bobby Portis (Little Rock, Ark./Little Rock) and Semi Ojeleye (Ottawa, Kan./Ottawa) seem like safe bets to improve their rankings. JaJaun Johnson (Memphis, Tenn./Southwind) fits somewhere on our list as well. There are others but there's a good chance these guys are moving on up.
Best I've seen thus far
Since March, I’ve been at five events. Here is the top performer from each event: PF Isaiah Hicks (Carolina Challenge), PF Reggie Cameron (Playaz Spring Fling), PG Kasey Hill (adidas VIP Run), 2014 SF Andrew Wiggins (Nike EYBL Hampton) and SF James Young (Hensley Memorial).
However, the best performer of the spring I've seen, at least so far, has been Andrew Wiggins. His team, CIA Bounce, is a juggernaut and he’s playing at a high level in addition to being a Cadillac recruit.
The most improved player I’ve seen? That would be point guard Kasey Hill. He’s refined his approach to the point guard slot and in my mind, become an elite player and impact recruit. There’s a difference between being highly rated and being an impact signee. He’s the best point guard Billy Donovan has ever recruited.
Most consistent performer so far? Have to go with winger James Young.
Players to watch
Three guys to watch closely because they could make up ground quickly and wedge their way into the ESPN 100: wing Martez Walker (Detroit/Pershing), wing Tim Quarterman (Savannah, Ga./Johnson) and guard Elliott Pitts (Dublin, Calif./DeLaSalle).
The shoe company landscape dictates that you need to see travel team events of Nike, Under Armour and adidas. So far, I’ve managed to click off the swoosh and three stripes. UA is up next Memorial Day weekend in Dallas.
What I’ve Heard
There are a handful of prime performers I’m dying to see again because it’s been too long between viewings and point guard Troy Caupain (Midlothian, Va./Cosby) is priority No. 1 for me on Memorial Day weekend.
The college coaches are raving about power forward Austin Nichols (Eads, Tenn./Briarcrest). JV Jimmer Fredette, aka Nick Emery (Lone Peak, Utah/Lone Peak), power forward Jermaine Lawrence (Springfield Gardens, N.Y./Pope John XXIII) and wing Robert Hubbs (New Bern, Tenn./Dyer County) are on my wish list to see before the end of May.
Questions that remain
Who is the best point guard in 2013? Kasey Hill or Andrew Harrison (Travis, Texas/Travis)?
The No. 1 player in the 2013 class is Jabari Parker (Chicago, Ill./Simeon). Do we have a lock No. 2 yet?
The center group lacks a dominant player in the 2013 class. Can BeeJay Anya (Hyattsville, Md./DeMatha) be that guy?
Troy Williams (Hampton, Va./Phoebus) is down to North Carolina and Kentucky. When is he going to pop?
It’s impossible to put the Class of 2012 in the rearview mirror because we have a series of holdouts that are hijacking our final class rankings. Anthony Bennett (Brampton, Ont./Findlay Prep) is expected to decide in the near future.
Once we put these commitments on ice, we’ll be able to give our complete attention to the next group of college candidates.