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Five players to watch during the July recruiting periods

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The first of three July live recruiting periods kicked off Wednesday at 5 p.m. ET, as coaches across the country are now able to evaluate talent in game settings.

Staffs are not allowed to have in-person contact with players, their families or their AAU coaches, but they are able to watch prospects up close and determine who they want to make a priority in the coming years.

There are so many intriguing talents to watch over the next few weeks but there are five names fans should keep an eye on.

All five have great upside and potential and while some are younger than the others, there is also areas of their games that they need to improve on. These live periods are a chance for the prospects to show the coaches how they have developed over the last couple of months.

2017 SG Hamidou Diallo (The Rens)

I attended the first Nike EYBL session in Brooklyn in April and the player that caught my eye immediately was Diallo. He is an elite offensive player because he glides with the basketball in his hands, can score effectively at the rim and in the mid-range, and has the athleticism and quickness to be a force in transition.

The 6’5″ guard from Queens can certainly take his game to another gear with better handles (sometimes he struggles with his left hand) and a more consistent three point shot.

Diallo, who is ranked 12th in ESPN’s top 100, can guard multiple positions defensively though, as he has good size, length and of course, as mentioned above, athleticism.

Every major school is involved and interested in Diallo, but UConn, Duke and Syracuse are some of the top schools that have been watching him since April.

It will be interesting to see how deep the Huskies, Blue Devils and Orange go for Diallo during this week’s Peach Jam.

Also, will John Calipari continue to make a push?

2017 SF Kevin Knox (E1T1 United) 

Knox, a 6’8″ small forward from Tampa, FL, was rather impressive during the FIBA U17 World Championships. He showed off his tremendous versatility, unique athleticism and superb fluidity.

Knox is ranked 7th in ESPN’s top 100 because of his ability to score at all three levels – he has the size to score on the interior, the face up game to score in the mid-range and the range to drop threes.

The Tampa native needs to continue to get tougher defensively and will have to work on tightening up his handles.

Like Diallo, Knox has offers from virtually every high major school in the book.

Will any program emerge from the pack this July?

2017 PF Malik Williams (Legit Basketball)

Williams is playing in Philadelphia this week at the Elevate Hoops Summer Icebreaker.

As one of the best players at that event, he is likely to attract major coaches, including North Carolina State, Purdue, Indiana, Louisville, Xavier and Iowa, throughout the next few days.

The 6’10”, 215 pound big man is ranked 42nd in ESPN’s top 100. He needs to build more strength and will have to develop some toughness in the paint to be successful at the next level.

2018 PF Naz Reid (Sports U)

Reid is a 6’9″ power forward from New Jersey who plays like he is a guard. He has great handles and vision for his size, often showing off his ability to grab a rebound and run a fast break immediately.

Reid’s game (not his production, skill or experience level) reminds me of Draymond Green, as he uses his physical frame and length to his advantage. He is a solid defender who can guard multiple defenders, but most importantly, he’s a mismatch on the offensive end.

The Asbury Park native is ranked 4th overall on ESPN’s top 100, and has offers from UConn, St. John’s, LSU, Kansas, Louisville, Maryland, Oklahoma, North Carolina State, Syracuse, Villanova and Virginia, amongst others.

2019 G Scottie Lewis (Team Rio)

As a rising sophomore, Lewis still has a ton of room to grow as a high school player and he is certainly not even close to being ready to play at the college level right now.

The 6’5″ point guard has great size, good athleticism and great quickness. His decision making needs to improve and is not the best of shooters, but he can do numerous things on the basketball court and his upside is through the roof.

Lewis’ teammate Bryan Antoine is another terrific talent (Antoine is more of a shooter while Lewis is the lead guard).

One thing to watch: Lewis only weighs 175 pounds. Does that impact his game during these recruiting periods? Can be out-played if defenders are more physical with him?

I am a college basketball fanatic and a current St. John's University student. I also write for Rumble in the Garden and I am the editor of Busting Brackets FanSided.

NCAA Basketball

Rick Barnes Says He Would Have Left Tennessee if UCLA Paid Buyout

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Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes could have been the next head coach for UCLA, instead of Mick Cronin, if only the Bruins were willing to open up their wallets.

Barnes says that if UCLA would have promised to pay Barnes’ $5 million buyout, he would have left Tennessee to take the job at UCLA.

“I think I would’ve been the coach at UCLA,” Barnes said (h/t ESPN). “I’ve said that to people before. I really felt at that time that’s what would happen.”

Barnes was honest and open with his decision process during the news conference, saying that he struggled with making a final decision due to financial matters.

Barnes has since agreed to a new deal with Tennessee that will pay him $4 million per year before increasing to a $6 million annual sum by the end of the contract and provide more cash for his assistants.

“I’m supposed to be at Tennessee,” Barnes said. “And it’s really above and beyond the basketball program. I’m in love with this community. I’m in love with this state. I just think we got a lot of great things going on in this town.”

“A lot of praying went into it, I can tell you that,” Barnes said. “There was a lot going on. When you get down to a situation like that, it has to make sense from a financial standpoint. Bottom line is we couldn’t work it out with the buyout.”

Barnes also informed UCLA that he would not depart Knoxville without talking to athletic director Phillip Fulmer and others in the community.

I told them point blank, ‘I’m not going to walk out of here and not meet with my team,'” Barnes said. “‘I’m not going to walk out of here and not meet with people here that have been really good to me.’ … I said, ‘You just can’t say send a plane tomorrow and we’re leaving. I’m going to make sure this is done the right way.'”

“There was one time in my mind I truly felt that’s what would happen,” Barnes said about potentially taking the UCLA offer. “It got to that point where I felt like my prayers had been answered.”

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NCAA Basketball

The Madness is Underway

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NCAA

As we inch closer to selection Sunday, many conference tournaments are underway finding teams who will automatically make the NCAA Men’s basketball. Here are the teams that currently in the tournament:

Atlantic Sun: Liberty

Big South: Gardner–Webb

Colonial: Northwestern

Horizon: Northern Kentucky

MAAC: Iona

Missouri Valley: Bradley

MEC: Fairleigh Dickinson

Ohio Valley: Murray State

Patriot: Colgate

Southern: Wofford

Summit League: North Dakota State

Summit League: Saint Marry’s

Out of the 32 conferences with automatic bids in the tournament, 12 of them have been clinched. All the until selection Sunday the remaining 20 conferences will have their tickets punched. Who will that be? Stay tuned!

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NCAA Basketball

Tennessee Basketball Ranked 4th In (Early) Preseason Top 25

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A school built on football lure now has a thriving basketball team to get behind. In a early CBS basketball poll, the Volunteer squad is ranked 4th in the preseason. This should bring relief to a fan base whose struggled with a lackluster football team in recent years.

Under Coach Rick Barnes (SEC Coach of the year 2017)  the Vols went 26-9 last year, won a share of the regular season SEC title and reached the final of the SEC tournament. Tennessee should return most of their pivotal pieces for the 2018-19 season.

Admiral Schofield (2017-2018 ALL SEC second teamer) who tested the NBA waters has returned for his senior year to play along side Grant Williams (SEC player of the year) and Kyle Alexander. If they can stay healthy along with the supporting cast, this team has a legitimate chance to reach the final four.

According to Andy Katz, “Tennessee is the team to beat in the SEC this year,” and did I mention Coach Barnes recruiting is nothing to take lightly. Recently committed 5 star combo guard, Josiah James added his name to the class of 2019 and pushed the Vols recruiting into the top 10 nationally.

Although it’s too early to tell how this season will play out its certain the hype is warranted and reaching heights it hasn’t seen since the Bruce Pearl era.

Could it be!? Tennessee – a basketball school?

Follow the journey when the Volunteers tip off against Louisiana Lafayette on November 9th.

 

 

 

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