Class of 2022 four-star forward R.J. Godfrey sees recruitment heat up | Zagsblog
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Saturday / August 13.
  • Class of 2022 four-star forward R.J. Godfrey sees recruitment heat up

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    By JACOB POLACHECK

    It’s February 25, 2020. 

    R.J. Godfrey’s hands shake as he enters the packed North Gwinnett High School gym, preparing to face off against McEachern’s five-star point guard Sharife Cooper with a berth to the Georgia Class AAAAAAA final four on the line. 

    Cooper, the nation’s No. 5-ranked point guard at the time, is well familiar with crowded arenas and ruckus fans, set to join the Auburn Tigers in the fall. 

    Godfrey, despite being on his home court, isn’t as acclimated to the pure rowdiness and uproar from the North Gwinnett student section on this day. 

    “I’ve never seen that many people in a gym before,” he said. “I was just super nervous, man.” 

    The game tips off and within minutes, Godfrey starts to find his rhythm. 

    Coming off thrilling wins over Archer and East Coweta in North Gwinnett’s first two state playoff games, Godfrey and his team aren’t shying away from the spotlight. 

    Yet, after going ahead 65-60 with three minutes left in the fourth quarter, North Gwinnett’s offense stalls, failing to score for the remainder of regulation. Cooper and McEachern take full advantage, sending the game to overtime and ultimately coming away with a 75-68 victory.  

    “That was a game that we really needed for the school, making history, man,” Godfrey said. “We really needed that game.” 

    Godfrey finished with a respectable 18 points, 10 rebounds and three blocked shots, but it was Cooper who stole the show, scoring 22 of his game-high 27 points after halftime and finishing with four steals.

    At the time, Godfrey was relatively unknown in recruiting circles, still months away from receiving his first college offer. 

    In the 16 months since his battle with Cooper, Godfrey has become one of the most sought-after recruits in the class of 2022. 

    Godfrey, a 6-foot-7, 210-pound small forward out of Suwanee, Georgia, is ranked by 247Sports.com as the No. 141 overall prospect in his class with high-major colleges vying for his commitment. 

    “It’s just great meeting these new coaches and having college teams that you watched on TV since you were young recruit you,” Godfrey said. “It’s a dream come true.”

    Godfrey’s recruitment continues to heat up this summer as he takes his first college visits since the end of the recruiting dead period.

    Kicking things off, Godfrey traveled to the University of Georgia on June 8 for an unofficial visit, watching practice and getting a campus tour from head coach Tom Crean.

    “They have a pretty good squad this year,” Godfrey said. “They should win a lot of games this year. It was great. I’ve been on Georgia’s campus plenty of times and just seeing it again, all the basketball facilities, practices and locker room, it was just great.” 

    One week later, Godfrey made his first official visit trip, traveling to Fairfax, Virginia, to see George Mason from June 14-15. 

    “It’s a very nice campus,” he said. “Coach [Kim] English and coach [Dennis] Felton, they treated me right. I ate a lot of food which was great. I love food.” 

    While in the area, Godfrey also had the chance to visit the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C., checking out the White House and Washington Monument. 

    “I’m a history buff, so I loved seeing all the things we talk about in Social Studies class,” he said. 

    Just one day later, Godfrey made his way to Georgia Tech for his most recent unofficial trip, meeting with the Yellow Jackets’ staff. 

    “Coach [Josh] Pastner, he’s a super cool, super nice guy. I loved it there, too,” Godfrey said. “Coach [Julian] Swartz toured me around. He’s super cool.” 

    Although it was the players that really caught Godfrey’s attention. 

    “When I was in like ninth grade and tenth grade, I watched a ton in high school like Jordan Usher, Deivon Smith, Kyle Sturdivant and Rodney Howard,” he said. “I talked to a couple of those guys. It was crazy because you grew up watching them in high school games and now you’re talking to them and hopefully I’ll be playing with them in a year or so. It was just crazy talking to the people you look up to.”

    With three visits under his belt, Godfrey says he’s looking to make trips to Utah and Ole Miss, while also potentially visiting Georgia, Georgia Tech and George Mason again in the fall. 

    Over at Utah, Godfrey has been hearing mainly from the assistant coaches, while head coach Craig Smith has made quite the impression on his family. 

    “My parents love him,” Godfrey said. “I love him too. That’s a very nice staff they have over there.” 

    Meanwhile, Ole Miss has remained consistent in their recruiting of Godfrey since extending an offer last August. 

    “We talk a lot about the NBA and my family,” he said. “They always ask about my family. I did a virtual tour with them, I think in August. I was really trying to get a visit there in June, but the schedule just didn’t match up. I really do love Ole Miss.” 

    Godfrey has no timetable for a commitment, but says he’s looking for a place where he can get better and feel at home.

    “I don’t want to be playing basketball where I’m not having fun every day,” he said. “That’s the main thing, having fun and knowing you’re getting better so you can make it at the next level. That’s what it’s going to come down to.”

    After suffering an ankle injury at the end of May, Godfrey has spent the last month preparing to return for his AAU season with Atlanta Xpress. 

    “The main thing is just to have fun because this is my last AAU season,” he said. “I just want to have fun in July. It’s all about the experience.”

    As busy as he is with ankle rehab and training, Godfrey still finds time for himself, doing some fishing and watching some of his favorite movies. 

    “I’m a huge Marvel buff,” Godfrey said. “I watch all the Marvel movies. I’ve seen every Marvel movie. I love Marvel.”

    Although, when it comes to choosing his favorite Marvel movie, Godfrey has trouble making up his mind, constantly switching back and forth between “Thor: Ragnarok” and “Guardians of the Galaxy 2”. 

    “I think I’ve watched Thor Rangorok eight times and Guardians of the Galaxy 2 around six times,” he said. “Both are very, very great movies.” 

    In the midst of it all, Godfrey will often think back to his matchup with Sharife Cooper and his team’s devastating overtime loss and recognize how far he’s come. 

    “I see a lot of guys stop working, not being committed or they’re focused on something else off the court and it ruins their stride and motivation on the court,” he said. “I’m proud that I’ve stayed focused on my goal just to get better and pick up offers and hopefully one day make it to the NBA.” 

    Photo: Nicole Sites

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