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October 2018 Recruiting Update

Update: Just after publication, Isaiah Budjoso and Cooper Kaifes committed to Loyola’s class of 2018.

By Ramblermania.net recruiting expert, Blers.

September Round Up

As the first round of commitments gets underway, it’s pretty easy to get worried that other schools are loading up on talent while we seem stagnant, but that’s just part of the recruiting process. Player rankings will continue to shift as the high school season begins, some players excel, others struggle, and different team needs become apparent. We have at least three spots left to fill but one high level verbal commit already.

The one issue we’ve run into early is several of our point guards targets have fallen off the board. Xavier Castaneda and Brandon Wade committed to other schools; Xavier Pinson, a PG from Simeon who we had documented interest in, committed to Kent State. Shereef Mitchell out of Omaha visited two weeks ago, and seems to have a lot of potential on both sides of the ball, but he also may go the prep school route in search of a higher offer. (Creighton was in to see him earlier this week.) We did have a new name pop up on an official visit this week in Isaiah Budjoso.

There is still plenty of time, but the point guard position is really in a state of flux following this season. We don’t know if Custer will play out his eligibility, or if Skokna will be capable of assuming the starting role next season. I wouldn’t be shocked if we end up with a JUCO point guard by seasons end with the intention of going all in on a 2019 PG for the following class.

Documented Official Visits for September

Brandon Wade
Keshawn Justice
Shereef Mitchell
Cooper Kaifes (?) – followed Custer on twitter same day Shereef Mitchell did, but possibly nothing.
Isaiah Bujdoso

Off the Board

Brandon Wade– Wade was someone I was convinced would be in a Rambler uniform; however, when we didn’t get a commit after the visit I was a bit worried. He ended up committing to Duquense in the A-10. Apparently their coach had been on him since he was a freshmen. We were in his final 3 along with Toledo (where his father played).

Xavier Castaneda– Another high-level point guard we missed on who chose USF. Getting him was always going to be a bit of a reach given his high level of play.

Kendle Moore– Committed to Drake. There’d been no news of us having contact with him, and in a Twitter exchange regarding Tim Finke, his uncle stated we backed off Moore a while ago (I really like him as an offensive spark for Drake, he’ll be fun to watch).

Vincent Williams– Committed to VCU. We were always a stretch for Williams. He’s a nice talent, we offered just as he really started to pick up, even got a Butler offer a few days before committing.

Still on the Board

(Open Offers according to Verbal Commits)

Cooper Kaifes- Official Visit in September [Committed to Loyola on 10/11.]
Shereef Mitchell- Official Visit in September
Keshawn Justice-Official Visit in September
Lamar Norman-Unofficial earlier this year
Drew Peterson- Unofficial earlier this year

Markeese Hastings
Tray Jackson
Trace Ramsey
Deante Johnson
Gaven Pinkley- Think he’s off our radar.

The Commit

Franklin Agunanne is a ESPN 4 star, Rivals and Scout 3 star player who according to many had High Major interest. He comes from La Lumiere, one of the best programs in the country. They won the Dicks National Championship last season, so not only is Porter getting a state champion, but a national champion as well. He looks like he could play now based on his size and muscle mass. Elite defender and rebounder with a growing offensive game. A trio of Krutwig, Negron, and Agunanne is exciting. That has potential to be an elite frontcourt by 2019-20.

New Names

Tim Finke– Finke’s a former top 100 player in the nation who plays for Champaign basketball. He had a rough (by his standards) go shooting the ball in the summer after being injured. There was a good amount of buzz about him and us on Twitter after this tweet by one of his high school coaches.

It is doubtful that these struggles will continue, as he has been an elite prospect since his freshmen season. He held offers from Illinois, Ohio State, ND, Vandy, and Oregon. However, all of these schools seemed to have backed off following his struggles. Loyalty has played a big role in some of our better gets the past few years; and I doubt we’ll be as fickle as bigger programs. Finke would be Loyola’s biggest get since Doyle, and while I don’t think it’s likely, I don’t put our chances at 0%. Word is he will play out the high school season and commit in the Spring.
Isaiah Bujdoso– Point guard out originally from Canada but playing for Sunrise Christian. Plays under control, pass first but can score when he wants. He’s not the most athletic point guard I have ever seen but has more athletic upside than either Clayton or Bruno. Has offers from Wichita State and St. Bonaventure, as well as some other mid majors. He took a visit last week, no word on when he is looking to commit. [Committed to Loyola on 10/10.]
Trace Ramsey– 6’8 wing type out of Valparaiso. Athletically gifted, likely playing against lesser competition. Reminds me a bit of Chastain before he committed, more polished down low, but less of a jump shot. Like Chastain he’s probably best attacking the rim off the drive. We just offered him over the weekend, so I don’t know much. Has offers from Toledo and Western Michigan.

Looking Forward…

Lots of options and pieces still on the board, and probably plenty that we don’t even know about. Things can change quickly with recruiting; take Agunanne for example. His recruitment moved extremely fast. I mentioned him briefly in the last round up and within a few weeks, he committed. There was no formalized offer or visit, he just popped up as a commit one day.

In terms of another commitment, I feel like we have a good shot at Keshawn Justice and maybe Cooper Kaifes. That said it is hard to say, you’d like to have kids wrapped up directly following a visit, and they’re both a few weeks removed from theirs. We are recruiting kids at a higher level than we have previously, so they all definitely have other options they’ll want to check out. That said hopefully we’ll have at least one guard commit before the November deadline!

August 2018 Recruiting Update

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.

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.

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-UjqmAk11i0

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).

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9xXGPstWPkE

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.

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BIzHCNVRFmQ

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.

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EvJiNzlLByc

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.

Video: http://www.hudl.com/profile/6936045/mason-mcmurray

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: 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.

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 Ramblermania.net 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.