By Ramblermania.net 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.
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.
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.
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
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).
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: https://twitter.com/wadesworld32/status … 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.
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?