Drake Harris 2014 Grand Rapids Christian (via PrepHoopsTV)
July is one of recruiting nerds favorite months of the year. July 11th starts the next evaluation period and coaches will be free to visit the multitude of AAU events where players square-off to demonstrate their skills and earn new offers. This is part of a two-fold courtship – players are seeking to display their best and raise their stock in the eyes of coaches and coaches want to impress recruits by being visible at as many of their games as possible. Though there is less suspense this year with MSU’s main targets being clear, Spartan fans will learn more about who MSU is paying close attention to by which coaches show up for whose games. Expect TOC's coverage to grow as the July recruiting cycle picks up.
Before I round-up the news, the big story from last week was the football/basketball commitment of Drake Harris of Grand Rapids Christian. Chris and Pete both covered the commitment extensively so there isn’t a lot left to say. I only have two thoughts. First, I wouldn’t make any strong bets right now on Drake’s future in football and basketball. I don’t think this issue will be resolved until after his freshman year at MSU when he'll have a season in each sport under his belt. He may decide to focus on one or continue playing both but we probably won't know for a long time. Second, this shouldn’t change the MSU basketball recruiting picture too much. Drake won’t be occupying a basketball scholarship and his presence shouldn’t prevent Coach Izzo from looking at other wings like Jaquan Lyle, Rashad Vaughn, and Paul White. With the possibility of no holdover guards from ’13, it would be easily justifiable to have two wings in a potentially large (4-5 player) 2014 class.
Some player bullets and news after the jump...
Speaking of, NY2LAHOOPS has some new footage of Rashad Vaughn, the New Hope, Minnesota wing who Tom Izzo watched last winter. Vaughn is a fast-rising player and is now ranked as one of the top shooting guards in the nation by most services. It isn’t clear how heavily MSU will be interested in Vaughn and whether they ramp up their attention may be something to watch this summer. His most recent offer is from Syracuse.
Cliff Alexander visited Illinois last weekend to spend time with his in-state suitor. No major news came out of it and there’s little reason to believe that things have shifted in his recruitment. Alexander is still publicly a big fan of Coach Izzo with MSU out in front. Cliff has been playing outstanding basketball this year and is now ranked as the No. 3 player in the nation by Scout. He has talked about waiting to make a decision until his senior year of school but it’s worth pointing out that Drake Harris said the same thing as of a few months ago. Dynamics move quickly in recruiting and public timetables are often overturned. It’d be great if MSU could wrap him up earlier to keep their 2014 class rolling.
Chicago’s lanky wing forward Paul White picked up an offer from Florida in addition to invites from notables OSU, DePaul, Illinois, Missouri, and Marquette. He was a recent attendee at the 2012 Izzo Shootout, the same event that helped finalize the Drake Harris recruitment. It doesn’t sound like White picked up an MSU offer but he could be an attractive target if MSU gets serious about a second 2014 wing player. He's 6'8 but plays like a guard despite being often listed as a 200-pound power forward. White also acquired an offer from Indiana this summer and looks to have jumped up their board.
Monte Morris of Flint wrapped up his recruitment and committed to Iowa State last week. "Man Man" was never a serious MSU 2013 target but that says more about our other recruits than something negative about Morris’ game. Even though he was apparently evaluated behind Tyus Jones, Demetrius Jackson, and Derrick Walton as possible MSU point guards, Morris is a Top 100 player who will make an impact for the Cyclones.
Though I'm skeptical about how "official" his offer from Michigan State might be, it's worth noting that Abdul Malik-Abu rocked the Elite 75 event last weekend. He impressed everyone as expected with his athleticism and even demonstrated some growing skill game as he knocked down a three. You can catch a very quick clip of one of those bombs in this video recap by Adam Finkelstein. The NBE Basketall Report had this longer analysis:
Abu continued his breakout AAU season with another stellar performance at the Elite 75. He had the best day of any big man in attendance showing off his blossoming inside-outside game. Abu’s recruitment is starting to reap the benefits of his dominant play as he now holds scholarship offers from Providence, Iowa State, Michigan State, Temple, and Rhode Island. Other schools that have been in constant contact with Abu since June 15th but have yet to extend a scholarship offer include Pittsburgh, Seton Hall, Missouri and Notre Dame. Connecticut has also been in contact with Abu’s AAU coach to express interest but have yet to contact him directly. As for what Abu is looking for in an eventual destination, his needs are quite simple. He’s looking for a chance to play and a team that is focused on defense and winning.
With MSU deep in pursuing some of the best post players in the 2014 class (Cliff Alexander, Jahlil Okafor), Malik-Abu looks like a long-shot to get the full press from the Spartans any time soon.
The summer schedule for July is still coming together but some of the major events that Coach Izzo and staff will almost definitely be attending are starting to take shape. One of the biggest is the EYBL Finals at the Nike Peach Jam in the middle of the month. The major story is that Jabari Parker, Julius Randle & Andrew Wiggins will be playing in the same pool together as top players in the their class. After shadowing Branden Dawson and Gary Harris in years past, Jabari Parker is probably Tom Izzo’s next summer project. By all accounts, MSU is still sitting in excellent shape to win a commitment from Parker this fall.
Fans know the story on the major Plan A players for the 2013 and 2014 class. There's little doubt that MSU will be watching Jabari Parker, James Young, Jahlil Okafor, Tyus Jones, and Cliff Alexander intently. One of the most important storylines to watch is who the next group of recruits might be. How committed is MSU to players like Demetrius Jackson, Jaquan Lyle, and others mentioned as possible targets? The second thing to monitor will be the continued emergence of the 2015 class. While still young, there's no doubt that MSU is aware and scouting players in the rising sophomore group, names like Jalen Coleman, Matt Holba, Diamond Stone, and Trevor Manuel. Those young athletes will continue to make names for themselves this summer, setting the groundwork for future recruitment.