August 2018 Recruiting Update

By recruiting expert, Blers.

It’s been a busy August on the recruiting trail for the Ramblers. The staff has made a few new offers over the month, and some of the players we have offered have seen big time movement. Still no commits from the 2018 class, but it will be interesting to see if we can land a player or two in the coming months with four spots available.

Our coaches seem to be doing a killer job when it comes to evaluating talent early. We’ve been involved with a lot of players early who’ve gone on to blow up nationally. The shame is some of these players have gotten so big that they played their way out of our league this past July. For example, were extremely early in terms of getting involved with Zion Griffin, he visited us when he only had 2-3 offers but now he’s considering Kansas, Iowa State, Pitt, and Illinois State as his final 4 (he’s said on multiple occasions Kansas is his dream school).

One other interesting note: we have yet to offer any players out of JUCO.

New Offers

Lamar Norman Jr. 6’2 Guard out of Godwin Heights (MI)
Another Michigan offer from us, smooth bouncy guard with elite scoring ability. He can shoot the 3 or drive inside; he can also finish a dunk with power. He’ll need to add muscle at the next level but I really like his game as a scorer, probably the best of everyone we’ve offered thus far. He plays AAU Ball with Brandon Wade who I’ve written about in the past as well as Markeese Hastings our most recent offer listed below. He visited earlier this year before we offered; lots of mid major interest.


Markeese Hastings 6’7 Forward out of Godwin Heights (MI)
This guy is a classic Moser 4 man. Slightly under sized but highly mobile and able to really get out there and move in transition. Averaged 16 points, 11 boards and 3 blocks as a junior during the high school season. Looks to play with a lot of fire, and scouts rave about his motor. Loves blocking shots which is something we really haven’t had; can finish above the rim. Has pretty nice handles for someone of his size; and an O.K. 3 point shot. If I had to guess he’s under-recruited given his height. He also probably doesn’t have the shooting ability to play the wing full time, and it’s unclear how well he could defend the 3. But as a post player I really like him and think he’d be a great compliment to what we already have. Again, he plays on the same AAU team as Lamar Norman Jr. and Brandon Wade (1Nation).


Cooper Kaifes, 6-3 Guard, Mill Valley High School (Kansas)
Plays for the really solid Mokan Elite program that produced Ben Richardson and Clayton Custer. Really trying not to be too simplistic; but he seems to be nearly identical to Ben in skill set; 3 point shooter, not the best athlete but will bring some of the best hustle. Seems like a great culture/glue guy. He has some Valley offers (UNI, Drake, and MSU). Wants to study business in school per an attached interview. Per fellow poster Ramblertank22, he broke his foot during his junior season but starred as a sophomore carrying most of the load for his team.


James Moors, 6’9 Forward, out of Auckland New Zealand
Listed as a power forward but plays it like the wing. He’s an interesting player. He’s really tall but has some ability to put it on the floor and shoot off the dribble. He can shoot the 3, and he’s athletic enough to dunk. He was the MVP at the U17 nationals so he’s played well against a higher level of competition before. Ultimately, it’s hard to judge though. We’ve obviously recruited international bigs before in the past, but this kid seems further along than any of those players.


Mason McMurray 6’7 Forward from Stow-Munroe Falls High School (Ohio)
McMurray is a 6’7 forward who looks like he has some decent mobility and can dribble fairly well for his size. Looks to have 3 point range as well, albeit with a really rigid shot. Not much on him that I could find, and from what i can see we are his first division 1 offer. Based on his one YouTube highlight tape, he looked like a D2 player. But I have faith in the staff to find talent. The last time we thought a kid we offered was D2 was when we offered Matt Chastain and look what happened to his recruitment weeks later; he may have left, but kid could play when healthy. His Hudl season highlights (link below) also made me feel a bit better… he may end up being a late bloomer similar to Taylor Bruninga for the Redbirds who we didn’t recruit until after his high school season. McMurray recently cut his list to five schools and we’re in the mix.


New Interest

Hasn’t been any major new interest recently based on social media, but I’d continue to keep an eye on Ty Mosley who I mentioned in the last recruiting round up. Other than that Xavier Pinson is the only player who has really caught my eye.

Xavier Pinson 6’3 PG from Simeon
Keep an eye on Pinson. He may be a back up plan in the event we’re unable to land Castaneda or Wade. He’s got a nice game, good scorer, not a bad distributor either. He just transferred into Simeon this year from St Pats; he explicitly noted we had interest via his twitter.

Franklin Aguanne 6’8 Forward from La Lumiere
Big body, rebounder, shot blocker, not much touch around the post yet. Couldn’t really find a lot on him, but he’s been taking a lot of mid major visits!

Commitments, List Trimming, and Visits

Over the past few weeks we’ve seen a few players trim their lists and two players we offered committed to another school. Most of these are players who we offered that simply blew up into the high major scene:


Isaiah Moll: Committed to Vermont; seemed like a random offer from us. I never really looked into him, but doesn’t seem like a major blow.

Brady Heiman: Committed to Nebraska. We got involved a bit late, but he seemed like a kid who was just waiting for Nebraska to offer. He literally committed the day after they offered.

List Trimmed

Zion Griffin: Kansas, Iowa State, Pitt, and ISUr- blew up BIG TIME following our offer. Shocked ISUr is on the list to be honest; would really sting if he lands there. He’d be a game-changer in the Valley.

George Conditt: 11 schools, all high major with the exception of UTEP (Tim Floyd seems to offer every Chicago kid, but I don’t know how any local kid could take his offer seriously).

Duane Washington Jr.: No official list but he’s got 34 offers; if I had to guess I’d put money down that he goes to Michigan.

Talen Horton Tucker: Elite Chicago talent, we’ve been out of the running for a while.


It’s very early, so no need to sound the alarm, but no word on any official visits to LU at this point. This isn’t a huge deal; there weren’t even reports of us having any connection at all with players like Tyson Smith, Lucas Williamson, or Aundre Jackson before they committed. Athletes get 5 official visits to school, but can take as many unofficials as they want. Below is a brief list of players we’ve offered who’ve publicly scheduled some official visits.

Xavier Castaneda: Wichita State (ew), USF, and Kent State.
Javon Freeman: Valpo, Akron, and FGCU
Gaven Pinkley: Drake
Kendle Moore: Drake and William and Mary

Our Stock

Purely me guessing based on the landscape but here’s who I think we’re in good shape with and who may have fallen out of favor (whether it be from our end or there’s).

Stock up

1. Mason McMurray– We were listed in his top 5 and are certainly the highest-level school to offer him (High Point is the only other Division I university on the list). It will be interesting to see if he commits early. I could see coaches either hoping to get him now before other schools take notice, or wait to see if we can grab a higher level post presence. Either way if I had to guess we’re in good shape with him.

2. The 1Nation Trio– If I had to guess we’ll grab at least one of these 3 players. Our coaches seem to have a great relationship with their Coach Keith Wade (father of PG Brandon Wade), as evidence by this tweet: … 7388551168. 1Nation seems to be a pretty high level program so we’re in good shape there. In regards to Brandon Wade specifically, Denzel Valentine was actually at LU and they got to meet at his unofficial.

Stock Down

Really just a guessing game, maybe we’re still extremely involved in these three’s recruitment, but based on social media and recruiting service information, we may be drifting from these kids.

1. Kendle Moore– Really no movement in his recruitment this summer which has to hurt, played at a really high level during his junior high school season, but doesn’t seem like he’s receiving much love this summer.

2. Gaven Pinkley– Pretty similar to Kendle Moore, had an overall very quiet summer. This is getting into NBA twitter conspiracy territory but he’s only followed by Mullins on twitter, the priorities seem to have all 3 coaches following them.

3. Javon Freeman– We weren’t on his initial list of visits and nothing that’s come out recently links us to him outside a video filmed in mid July where he mentioned we were involved. He’s a great athlete and good off the drive, but doesn’t have a real shot yet. Could be the case that the staff wants a guard that can shoot for next season. Avery and Townes are both players who are great taking it to the hoop but are probably not be the best jump shooters. Freeman recently “liked” the Ramblers schedule release tweet; and Whitney Young High Schools account retweeted several @PortersJacket tweets; including one about Freeman. Could be nothing, but it definitely doesn’t hurt our chances and shows that on some level he’s still paying attention to LU which doesn’t hurt.

Overall this summer has proven to be the most exciting yet for us on the recruiting trail. We’re involved with some high level athletes, and based on our last two classes we will likely continue to find success nabbing some nice players. As always would love to hear your thoughts on your own rankings and evaluations. Who would you realistically like to see wind up in a Rambler uniform?

Loyola Ramblers Class of 2018 Recruiting Update

By recruiting expert, Blers

From all the available information and sources, it sounds like the Ramblers are still in the mix with Drew Peterson, a top 5 small forward in the state. Peterson plays for the Illinois Wolves, so there’s a strong Mullins connection there. He also plays with another high-level in state recruit Ty Mosley, who I’m guessing Loyola will offer before summer ends.

The Ramblers have a lot of offers out now; but I think as the spring and summer has progressed, some have fallen off in terms of interest. Some players have simply played out of our level. Here’s a current breakdown of where I think Loyola has focused priorities:

Top Targets- Players we’ve been actively recruiting for a while and still (in my opinion) have a good shot at landing.

G Brandon Wade- The 6’2” point guard out of Ann Arbor (MI) Skyline High School has a great relationship with his AAU and high school coach (who’s also his dad!). Wade is a pass-first point guard, who has the ability to take over the scoring load when needed. He seems close to complete skill-wise, but he will need to add weight at the next level. Wade or Castaneda (see below) could very well be the point guard of the future. The two-star recruit also has offers from Ohio, Elon, Detroit, and several MAC schools.

G Xavier Castaneda*- The 6’0” 170-pound Whitney Young point guard picked up a Wichita State offer recently. We seem to have a good relationship with Young and AAU program, Meanstreets, so we’re probably in decent shape. Three-star recruit according to ESPN, with offers from several AAC and CUSA schools, plus Iowa State, Valpo, and Milwaukee.

G Javon Freeman-Liberty*- A three-star shooting guard at Whitney Young, Freeman-Liberty’s recruiting exploded this past month, getting offers from VCU, SLU, and Akron, along with a ton of other Mid Majors. Loyola was first to the party by a couple of months, which can’t hurt us.

F Drew Peterson*- Peterson is a 6’7″ wing from Libertyville High School with a great shooting touch. He recently stated Loyola was in the mix. He has high major interest, specifically from Michigan, but no offers from high majors yet; offers from Yale, Rice, Elon, and William & Mary indicate he’s a great student.

F Zion Griffin*- This explosive 6’5 wing out of Hinsdale South is gaining three point range and could move to the top of Loyola’s list. He had a huge weekend and landed an Iowa State offer. Also offered by Missouri State, Drake, Illinois State, and SIU.

F Gavin Pinkley- The two-star recruit out of Hillsboro High School in Missouri averaged 22 and 10 as a junior. A 6’8 big with mobility, Loyola watched him a LOT last season and my guess is the Ramblers have a pretty solid shot at landing him. He has a lot of mid major offers, including Drake and Missouri State.

Tier 2-These are names that either popped up out of nowhere recently or players who we seem to have fallen off of (at least publicly). They very well could be a priority for the staff, this is all just guess work based on recruiting articles/twitter; but most on this list don’t have as many offers from comparable schools yet. That could change at any time with one good week.

G Kendle Moore*- His recruitment really seems to have died down across the board for whatever reason, and I also saw the ISUr board from their recruiting insider that they were in the lead for Moore. There is still time for things to change, but I haven’t been able to gather much action on him from Loyola and other sources.

G Demonte Nelson- Short, explosive point guard from what i can gather… Haven’t been able to find much; he’s only 5’10 but scores the ball really well. Took an unofficial to Wichita State and Mizzou earlier this year.

G Keshawn Justice- Guard with an all around game, decent athleticism, a few MVC and Horizon offers.

F Tray Jackson- Another long wing a bunch of mid major offers.

F Deante Johnson- Long, Lean, shot blocker who has several MVC offers.

F Isaiah Moll- Same deal as the others, athletic big man. Lots of east coast mid/low major offers.

Overqualified- Players who have most likely played their way out of our range and into a high major scholarship:

G Duane Washington Jr.- Coach Valentine having such strong ties to Michigan could help, but Washington has a lot of suitors. A two-star when we offered, he’s now listed as a four-star and has around 30 offers including Clemson, SMU, UNLV, Dayton, Butler… A 6’3” point guard from Grand Rapids Christian, I doubt Loyola will get him, but he could be a game-changing recruit for the Ramblers.

G Talen Horton Tucker*- Loyola has probably been out of the running for a while for this 6’5” two-star wing out of Simeon. He’ll likely end up somewhere like U of I.

F Vince Williams- Loyola just recently offered him so who knows, but he’s a four-star wing from St. John’s Jesuit in Toledo. He’s getting a lot of looks from High Majors, and has offers from Illinois State, SLU and Wichita State.

C George Conditt*- Went from an unknown to the most popular big man in state. A 6’10” center/power forward from Corliss, he’ll probably end up at U of I as well. Would be a huge get for Loyola, but very unlikely with offers from several P5 schools.

Names to Watch- No offers from Loyola yet, but we’re pretty involved.

G Lamar Norton- We still haven’t offered but are definitely still on him. Pure scorer, can shoot the 3 or go inside, kind of reminds me of what Devon Turk was as a senior in terms of scoring ability (not saying he’s as good as Turk was as a senior already obviously). Plays high school ball with Brandon Wade, coaches seem to have a great relationship with his High school coach who’s also Wade’s dad.

G Deandre Heckard*- Top 5 point guard in state out of Romeoville. I actually love his game, super smooth; he’s visited LU but no offer, may be waiting to see how Wade/Castaneda pan out

G Sam Sahfer*- A shooter, took an unofficial recently.

F Ty Mosley*- A 6’5 wing who plays for Orr and the Illinois Wolves. Athletic, can do a little of everything, and plays for the Illinois Wolves so there’s the Mullins connection.

* Indicates an in-state recruit.

Two more new offers this week:

Shareef Mitchell, 5’11” Guard out of Omaha Burke
The number 3 player in Nebraska right now. He’s had his recruitment really start to pick up this month. He’s considered a pretty good defender and looks to be a spark plug scoring, great looking jump shot averaged 22 points and 4+ assists as a Junior. Reminds me a lot of a player named Jerrick Harding from Wichita who we recruited last year, he ended up at Weber State and had a great season for them. A little undersized, but plays hard on both ends and is a little bit flashy, but in a good way. Mid major offers starting to role in; we’re still one of the first few to offer though!

Brady Heiman, 6’10” Center out of Platteview High School in Nebraska
He can stretch the floor and shoot the three, and play down low. He’s heard from Creighton and Nebraska with interest, but most of his offers are mid majors (of note, Rice and Drake). He averaged SEVEN blocks as a sophomore. He’s a big boy playing in a small class. High ceiling, but potentially a project a la ISUr’s Taylor Bruninga; but better down low and probably not as good on the perimeter.

This article was written by Ramblermania recruiting expert Blers.

SIU Preview — Arch Madness Edition — 3/3/17

Friday, March 3, 2017 2:30 p.m.
Scottrade Center, St. Louis, Mo.

For the third time in 27 days– and for the second time in the past week– Loyola faces Barry Hinson’s Southern Illinois Salukis. The Ramblers lost close games in the first two contests, by 6 points at home and by two points on the road. If you ask most Loyola players and fans, the Ramblers should have won both those games, and especially the one last week in Carbondale that could have vaulted Loyola into the #3 seed. But instead, Loyola as a #5 seed (the highest Arch Madness seeding in the four years since Loyola joined the MVC) will attempt to knock off #4 seed SIU on a neutral court.

The Ramblers are 3-3 all-time at Arch Madness, and 2-6 all-time against SIU. In the 26 years of Arch Madness there have been 13 times where two teams that faced each other on the last day of the season have had an opening round rematch, and in those games, the teams that won to end the season are 8-5. This year, the Loyola-SIU rematch at Arch Madness is one of three pairs of teams that also played each other in the regular season finale. Loyola is 2-1 on the season at neutral sites, and the Salukis haven’t played at a neutral court this season.

Despite no games at a neutral site yet this year, the Salukis will surely have plenty of fans on hand in St. Louis, which is only 105 miles from SIU’s Campus and one of the largest job markets for SIU graduates. The SIU partisans are used to success at Arch Madness, having won in 1993, 19994, 1995, and 2006. And Barry Hinson is 13-12 in 13 trips to St. Louis as head coach of SIU (2012-Present) and Missouri State (1999-2008).

One of the two teams will end their season in this game on Friday, and one of two all-conference seniors will end their college career. Will it be SIU’s versatile 6’7” forward Sean O’Brien, a MVC second team honoree who has annihilated the Ramblers in SIU’s two wins? O’Brien had 19 points and 10 rebounds on 9-of-11 shooting in the first game, and 17 points, 13 rebounds and five assists in the second game against LU. Or will it be Milton Doyle, the do-everything first team awardee who ranks in the top ten of so many Loyola basketball statistical categories? Doyle has been held in check against the Salukis, and the Ramblers have been bothered by SIU’s rim protection in the person of Thik Bol.

The Ramblers haven’t really put their pieces together against SIU. In the first game on Feb. 4, Donte Ingram had one of his best games of the year, scoring 22 points and racking up 10 rebounds, just about offsetting Sean O’Brien’s big game. Unfortunately, Clayton Custer and Ben Richardson had sub-par games and Aundre Jackson struggled against SIU’s big men, shooting below 50% from the field for only the fourth time in the season. In the second game last Saturday, Loyola overcame an early 12-point deficit and looked to take charge with six minutes left to play, but the Salukis always had an answer to keep the score close and hit a game-winning three-pointer in the final 20 seconds. This time Clayton Custer had the big game with 21 points, but Ben Richardson struggled again (2 points), and Milton Doyle (13 points on 5-of-13 shooting) and Donte Ingram (11 points) were kept in check. Meanwhile, the two SIU shooting guards, Leo Vincent and Armon Fletcher, combined for 29 points on 10-of-16 shooting.

Loyola certainly played better in the second game against SIU, but the offense experienced long dry spells in both previous contests. The Ramblers may have to consider backing off guarding O’Brien a bit, and concentrate on limiting offensive contributions from the likes of 6’4” guard Armon Fletcher (averaged 13 points in previous two contests), 6’1” guard Leo Vincent (averaged 11 in two games), and point guard Mike Rodriquez (13.5 average). If Loyola can put up with letting O’Brien go off for 25 points hold the trio of Fletcher, Vincent and Rodriguez in single digits, and figure out a way to neutralize 6’8” Thik Bol, will they may have a better chance at changing the outcome? Some other alternatives are to get O’Brien in foul trouble early and often (which he is apt to do), change the dynamic by using tactics that fluster the opposition (using traps, a full court press, a zone, etc.), improve offensive efficiency, get to the line more often, etc.

The only options left to the Ramblers are how they will beat SIU. When or whether or if they beat SIU is no longer an option. Just beat SIU. And waiting in line afterwards are possibly two other teams that swept the Ramblers this year who are also in need of a lesson.