Who’s Got Next? Okafor, Jones Ready to Announce, Trey Lyles, And MorePosted by Sean Moran on November 12th, 2013
Who’s Got Next? is a weekly column by Sean Moran, the RTC recruiting guru. Once a week he will bring you an overview of what’s going on in the complex world of recruiting, from who is signing where among the seniors to discussing the recruitments of the top uncommitted players in the country. We also encourage you to check out his contributions at The Intentional Foul dedicated to recruiting coverage and analysis. You can also follow Sean at his Twitter account @Seanmohoops for up-to-date news from the high school and college hoops scene. If you have any suggestions as to areas we are missing or different things you would like to see, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Okafor and Jones Set to Announce on Friday
The much anticipated college decision date has been set for center Jahlil Okafor and point guard Tyus Jones. On Friday at 3:00 PM CT the two friends and five-star recruits will choose between Duke, Kansas, and Baylor. Okafor is currently ranked as the No. 1 player in the class of 2014 and Jones is currently ranked No. 4 overall. A package deal has long been rumored for these two players over the past two years and appears set to come to fruition on Friday. Okafor will make his announcement at Whitney Young (IL) High School in Chicago while Jones will simultaneously announce at Apple Valley (MN) High School. Kansas and Duke are the two favorites in this recruiting race as both Bill Self and Coach K have tried their hardest to sell the duo on their schools. First the two coaches will go head to head Tuesday night in the Champions Classic at the United Center and then they both will square off again for the services of Okafor and Jones. While the winner of Tuesday’s night game will get the short term praise, the winner of Friday’s recruiting battle will position themselves quite nicely for another title run in 2015.
Wildcats Reel in Lyles
As noted in the most recent Seven Sweet Scoops, Kentucky now has the number one ranked recruiting class in 2014 with the addition of five-star power forward Trey Lyles. On November 5, the No. 1 power forward in the country and No. 9 recruit overall chose the Wildcats over their in-state rival, Louisville. Lyles is a native of Indianapolis and like many recent talented Indiana prospects, he de-committed from his original college choice. Before Lyles played a game at Indianapolis (IN) Tech, he had committed to play for Tom Crean and the Hoosiers at the start of his freshman season. Two years later, prior to beginning his junior year, Lyles decided to re-open his recruitment and received early interest from numerous schools. Kentucky was the presumed leader from the start and Calipari closed the power forward with his pitch about getting players to the NBA. Lyles has been a top 10 player in his class from the time he entered high school and is now the fourth player to sign with Kentucky in the class of 2014. The first member to sign with Kentucky was center Karl Towns Jr. (#11 overall, #4 C) who will now have another low post counterpart in Lyles. In AAU play, Lyles was hampered by injuries early but still averaged 11.4 points and 6.4 rebounds per game on the competitive Nike EYBL circuit. He is a true post player and is very effective when he catches the ball in the post. He uses a mixture of good footwork and a soft touch when going against the defense and can score after one or two post dribbles or with an over-the-shoulder hook shot. He is also comfortable facing up for turnaround jumpers. With power forward Julius Randle on the one-and-done route; Lyles will have an opportunity to provide the Wildcats with another strong low post presence next season.
Reid Travis Goes with Stanford
This past Friday, power forward Reid Travis selected Stanford over Minnesota and Duke. The four-star forward is ranked as the No. 7 power forward in the class of 2014 and No. 40 overall. The Minnesota native spurned his hometown school in favor of the strong academics out west. “I feel Stanford University is the best option I can choose. I chose Stanford because they were one of the earliest schools to show interest in my future,” said Travis at his announcement. The 6’7”, 240 pound Travis was one of the top players during the spring and summer as he turned himself into a top 40 prospect. The former high school football star is one of the strongest players in the prep ranks and will be physically ready to compete in the Pac-12 from day one. The commitment gives Stanford three Top 100 players in addition to four-star point guard Robert Cartwright (#51 overall, #13 PG) and four-star center Michael Humphrey (#80 overall, #10 C). The Cardinal is also in the mix for five-star forward Justise Winslow (#10 overall, #4 SF) who just spent the weekend on the Palo Alto campus. The 2014 Stanford recruiting class that Johnny Dawkins has landed is strong enough to become the building block for a return trip to the NCAA Tournament, assuming he can last another year.
Three-star power forward LeRoy Butts committed to Rutgers on November 8. The 6’7” Butts is an upcoming junior at Bishop O’Connell (VA) High School and plays his summer ball for the DC Assault AAU program. Butts will follow his former teammate and current freshman Junior Etou to the Scarlet Knights and gives the program its second commitment in the class of 2015 along with small forward Austin Burnette from Cardinal Gibbons (NC) High School. Butts is a lanky left-handed forward who excels in the post and sports a soft jump shot out to 15 feet. He excelled during the AAU season and selected Rutgers over Cincinnati and DePaul. The DC Assault AAU program is also the same program that head coach Eddie Jordan spent a year with in between his time in the NBA and accepting the job at Rutgers.
Illinois continued its recruiting momentum by getting a surprise commitment from four-star junior small forward D.J. Williams. On Tuesday morning John Groce landed his first commitment in the class of 2015 coming just days after Williams visited Champaign. The 6’7” wing is currently ranked as the No. 35 player in the class of 2015 and No. 7 small forward overall. Not only is Williams the first 2015 recruit for Illinois but he is also the third recruit from Simeon (IL) high school in two years. Last year Groce signed three-star point guard Jaylon Tate and four-star shooting guard Kendrick Nunn from the powerhouse Chicago school that has won four state championships in a row. This year Simeon lost the majority of its key contributors with the departures of Tate, Nunn, and Duke freshman Jabari Parker. Williams is expected to produce on his potential this year as his role grows from contributor to team star. With the early signing, Illinois is betting on Williams to make that jump and continue to improve over the next two years as the Illini look to reap the benefits from the city of Chicago.