Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Beginning Wednesday, college coaches from across the land will head out to Las Vegas, Orlando, Atlantic City and other spots for the last evaluation period of July.
Plenty will be on the line as the 2013 class is chock full of difference-makers and talented players who will soon decide their college plans.
Here’s a quick (unscientific) look at 12 schools in good shape with recruits heading into the final evaluation period.
1. Kentucky — As discussed in this story from Monday, Kentucky is, to no one’s surprise, involved with a Who’s Who of 2013 talent, including Jabari Parker, Julius Randle, the Harrison Twins, James Young, Aaron Gordon and Andrew Wiggins (who may or may not reclassify), among others.
2. Florida — While everyone else is pursuing players, Florida landed a verbal pledge from 2013 forward Chris Walker on Sunday. A future pro, Walker will pair with AAU teammate Kasey Hill to give the Gators a devastating 1-2 punch beginning in 2013. Florida remains involved with some very big fish, including Jermaine Lawrence, Austin Nichols and Rondae Jefferson in 2013 and Chris McCullough in 2014.
3. Duke — Coach K is leading the Dream Team this summer, but he still remains very much alive for both Jabari Parker and Julius Randle, as well as others like Marcus Lee, Austin Nichols and Allerik Freeman. Parker, the No. 1 player in 2013, could well decide between Duke, Michigan State and Kentucky.
4. Michigan State — Chicago recruiting expert Roy Schmidt thinks MSU has as good a shot as anyone at Parker because of his relationship with coach Tom Izzo and its proximity to Chicago. Izzo also tracked wing James Young and point guard Wes Clark of The Family at the Peach Jam, and Clark told SNY.tv the two could potentially package there.
5. Syracuse –– The Orange have to be considered the clubhouse favorite for CIA Bounce and St. Benedict’s Prep point guard Tyler Ennis, who has led his team to the finals of both the Nike Global Challenge and the Peach Jam. Syracuse is also in the mix for Jermaine Lawrence, Rondae Jefferson, James Young and Wes Clark in 2013, Chris McCullough in 2014 and Isaiah Briscoe in 2015.
6. North Carolina — Heels coach Roy Williams followed Andrew Wiggins at the Global Challenge and the Peach Jam, and although Wiggins is likely headed to Kentucky or possibly Florida State, he is known to like Carolina as well. Julius Randle could also land with the Heels, although they have stiff competition from Kentucky, Duke, Kansas, N.C. State, Texas and Baylor.
7. Washington — The Huskies are the favorite to land 6-9 forward Aaron Gordon, who had 16 and 10 in the Peach Jam final despite facing injuries. Gordon is a high-flying, dunking machine similar to Blake Griffin who would be a major score for coach Lorenzo Romar. UW is also in the mix for West Coast forwards Marcus Lee and Jabari Bird, among others.
8. Arizona — Sean Miller and company have secured a pipeline to the Oakland Soldiers, having landed Brandon Ashley, Nick Johnson and Josiah Turner in the past. Now they have a shot at Aaron Gordon, Jabari Bird and Stanley Johnson, a two-way stud who may have been the MVP of the Peach Jam final. The Wildcats are also among Rondae Jefferson’s final 7.
9. Louisville — Already loaded for the upcoming season, Louisville is hoping to land Tyler Ennis at the point guard, but they’re in a tough battle with Syracuse and Illinois. Rick Pitino’s crew is also in the mix for Hampton, Va., teammates Troy Williams and Anthony “Cat” Barber, who are talking about a potential package to Louisville or Alabama, if Barber doesn’t go to Kansas.
10(t). Alabama — Head coach Anthony Grant was all over the Nike circuit following Troy Williams and Cat Barber, among others. If he could land the athletic duo, they could cause major damage in the SEC.
10(t). Kansas — Bill Self and Joe Dooley were also all over the Nike events, following Cat Barber, Julius Randle and Al Freeman, among others. Their best shots appear to be with Barber at the point and potentially Randle up front. KU is also involved with 2013 forward Jermaine Lawrence and 2014 forward Chris McCullough, both of New York. Austin Nichols also mentions KU.
10(t). Indiana — Head coach Tom Crean and assistant Kenny Johnson have a good one in forward Trey Lyles, who excelled alongside Andrew Wiggins with Team Canada at the Nike Global Challenge. They are also in the mix for big man Beejay Anya, who is tight with Johnson and IU commit Stanford Robinson, as well Marcus Lee, Jaquan Lyle and Trevon BluiettFollow Adam Zagoria on TwitterAnd like ZAGS on Facebook
Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.