Spring Recruiting Season – Only a Few Days Left
April is a busy time for most college basketball coaches. Spring recruiting is in full swing. Players are making decisions about turning pro. The college basketball transfer lottery is in full swing. Some programs have leftover scholarships from the fall signing season. So, most programs have slots to fill in some way, or they would face the prospect of heading into next season with empty scholarship slots on the bench. Further, staffs are beginning to evaluate future targets at various AAU events around the country.
Perhaps the best place to plug a hole or fill a gap is through seeking out a transfer – as coaches have access to miles and miles of game film with which to evaluate prospects, all of whom have exhibited their strengths and weaknesses against Division 1 competition. Coaches look at April much like the shark in JAWS at a summer beach – a virtual feeding frenzy. And if not gathering in transfers (who now number in the several hundreds) – schools can target JUCO’s.
For example, Memphis coach Tubby Smith, with a massive roster mutiny, has signed State of Georgia JUCO star Raynere Thornton, Kyvon Davenport of Georgia Highlands College and Kareem Brewton from East Florida State College. Brewton was the leading scorer in East Florida State history and won an all-time high 59 games in two seasons. He was an NJCAA All-American and Southern Conference Player of the Year. The Knights made the National Championship game behind Brewton’s 19.9 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game. Given his background at UGA and UK, Tubby Smith is really pouring it on in Georgia in recruiting, as 4 of their 6 signees have a connection to the state.
Duke’s Chris Jeter headlines a list of highly coveted transfers. And Duke’s Sean Obi will also be highly coveted. The California Bears, among others, appear on his early list of suitors. Some transfers are graduates and ready to play next year, while others must sit out a year before contributing. Early success stories start at Iowa State (landing Marial Shayok of Virginia) and Ole Miss (beating many high majors out for Memphis transfer Markel Crawford) have hit the headlines recently. Al Freeman transferred to North Carolina State after his time at Baylor. New coach Mike Boynton at Oklahoma State did not wait long to take advantage himself – landing transfer Mike Weathers from Miami University. Transfers provide a quick fix to whatever roster problems a team faces.
There was even a case of a transfer following a coach, Rice’s Marcus Evans rejoined Mike Rhoades at VCU.
From UGA Perspective
Teshaun Hightower signed with Georgia as part of the Spring Class and he attended Mt. Zion Prep in Baltimore, Maryland. Hightower attended a post-graduate prep school (he attended Collins Hill High School previously), which is becoming a common avenue for prospective players that do not necessarily have the grades out of the High School to qualify at High Major programs and may require more polish on their respective skill sets. UGA has been fortunate in the Spring Signing Period in recent years – Nemanja Djurisic, Pape Diatta, Mike Edwards and Yante Maten were all Spring signees, among others.
Though UGA did sign Hightower, Mark Fox has one scholarship left and has said that he wants to sign another post. UGA has 4 reported scholarship offers out – Terrell Turner, a combo guard out of Miami, as well as 3 posts that have been reported – Isaiah Whaley, Obadiah Toppin and Isaac Kante. All three posts have received interest and scholarship offers from High Major and Mid Major programs.
Kante is the top target for Jonas Hayes and Mark Fox, it will be a bit of a challenge to get the Brooklyn native to not choose a future at the corner of Union Turnpike and Utopia Parkway. Even though St. John’s is a “local” option and it provides Kante with the opportunity to play regular season games at the grandest venue in professional sports, Madison Square Garden, there is a downside in that it is not near a subway line. St. John’s University does feature a Manhattan campus, but will he be attending classes on that campus? Likely not. To get to a subway station, Kante would have to either make a one mile walk across the Grand Central Parkway or take a bus (not exactly convenient like attending Fordham). Kante attended Paul Robeson High School for Business and Technology in Crown Heights, Brooklyn before going to Putnam Science Academy for post-graduate preparatory studies. Assuming his family is in Crown Heights, if he were to take a car – his commute to home neighborhood would rather simple, he could just take the Jackie Robinson Parkway to the Grand Central Parkway straight to St. John’s University. However, without a car, it is a much tougher commute due to the lack of options near the St. John’s University campus in Queens.
It is possible Fox is playing his cards closed to the vest. He surely continues to turn his nose up at graduate transfers that could serve as useful rental players (remember James White?). Or maybe Fox has confidence he will land a late signed four year player.
What we worry about is that perhaps Fox doesn’t have a plan. After all, it would surely coincide with his apparent plans to date – late to the game and with no sense of urgency. This approach has created the “do or die” climate Fox and his team seemingly walk into next season.