The high school basketball season is starting to wind down, which means many of the top unsigned prospects will soon make a decision as to which college they will play for.
About twice a month I’ll do a mailbag answering readers’ recruiting questions about Duke, North Carolina or N.C. State. Tweet your questions to @jonmalexander and use the hashtag #AskJMA.
Let’s get to this week’s mailbag:
* @ThePopeJayson asks: Who are #Duke and #UNC #1 recruiting target? The future of tobacco road!!! #AskJMA
@jonmalexander: Last month, the answer would have been the same for both teams: Kevin Knox. Knox, a 6-9, 205-pound wing forward, is the No. 7 overall recruit in the class of 2017. That answer remains the same for UNC. He seems to be a perfect fit for the Tar Heels’ fast break offense. It’s similar to the offense he runs at Tampa Catholic. He can knock down the long shot and get to the basket with ease.
The Blue Devils’ primary focus has changed since Oak Hill point guard Matt Coleman chose Texas over Duke last month. That’s not to say they don’t really want Knox, because they do. He’s a game changer. But Duke’s struggles this season include the lack of a consistent point guard. Guards Grayson Allen and Frank Jackson, and senior forwards Matt Jones and Amile Jefferson have brought the ball up court this season.
Allen and Jackson have done pretty well, but neither are true point guards.
Duke wants someone who can run the show, and the No. 5 overall recruit in the class of 2017, Trevon Duval, a 6-3, 190-pound point guard from IMG Academy, can do just that. He visited Duke from Feb. 8-10 and was at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Thursday when the Blue Devils beat UNC. He’s the top-rated point guard in the country, according to 247sports.com.
* @johncarterws asks: Is NC State lacking in any positions for basketball for the upcoming season with DSJ, Anya, and possibly Abu leaving? #AskJMA
@jonmalexander Yes, although, I see junior forward Abdul-Malik Abu staying for his senior season.
Freshman guard Dennis Smith Jr. will likely be a one-and-done player. Forward BeeJay Anya, who averages 3.1 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks per game, is a senior. Freshman forward Omer Yurtseven was initially projected to be a one-and-done, but his status for next season is unknown. He has averaged 6.8 points and 5.2 rebounds per game so far this season.
Without Anya and if Smith and Yurtseven leave for the NBA, the Wolfpack would need a point guard and depth at forward. The Wolfpack has freshman point guard Markell Johnson, who has been backing up Dennis Smith Jr. this season, but he’d need his own backup next season.
Freshman forward Ted Kapita still has some things to prove. He averages 4.2 points per game and 3.6 rebounds per game this season. For a two-game stretch during ACC play, head coach Mark Gottfried opted not to play him because others were performing better.
The Wolfpack has only one player in the class of 2017, Thomas Allen, the former Garner High School standout shooting guard who’s now playing for Brewster Academy in New Hampshire.
Brian Bowen, a 6-7, 194-pound small forward McDonald’s All-American from La Lumiere High School in La Porte, Indiana, is still an option. But the Wolfpack’s five-game losing streak, three by 20 points or more, could impact his decision. Bowen is also interested in Michigan State, Arizona, Creighton and Texas.
* @JamesCurle asks: @jonmalexander Will the way this season has played out undermine Gottfried’s recruiting efforts moving forward (if he is retained)?
@jonmalexander Without a doubt.
Recruits pay attention to how well the teams recruiting them are doing. That’s why the top programs each year tend to get the best players.
Of course there are a host of other reasons why recruits choose certain schools. For example, best fit, proximity to family, childhood dream school, best path to NBA, education, etc. But for N.C. State, it doesn’t look good to lose by 30 to Wake Forest and 51 to your rival at UNC.
The Wolfpack came into the season with a lot of talent, but has so far underperformed with a 3-10 ACC record, considering what Mark Gottfried has done with less talented teams (Sweet 16 in 2015). With five games left in the regular season, the Wolfpack is 14th out of 15 teams in the conference standings.
Wake Forest guard Keyshawn Woods’ comments after the Demon Deacons beat the Wolfpack spoke volumes: “We knew if we got up early on them, they (were) going to quit,” he said Saturday.
Recruits notice that. Most people would.