You might understandably start this article with a couple questions in your head waiting to be answered. The main ones likely being "Are we seriously already on 2017 basketball recruiting?" and "How young even are these kids?" to which the responses I think I am obligated to say are "yes" and "old enough."
It’s weird to think of the 2017 class as being a legitimate thing to talk about already, particularly because the famous ‘16 class that features top target and the potential "Mayor of Winston-Salem" Harry Giles has been discussed for so long in Deacon forums and chats it seemed like it would never arrive.T hat class is more than on its way already to being completed and that means the succeeding ’17 crop is the equivalent of that highway Bojangles sign you see coming into focus as you hungrily cruise down I-77. You want it. We’re close enough.
It’s never too early to get a head-start on thinking about how good it will be when it arrives. Here’s part 1 of my 2017 Wake Forest Basketball Recruiting Breakdown focusing on the top PG prospects the staff is targeting at the moment. Get to know the names, their backgrounds, and feel free to comment with thoughts below as always.
-247 Sports: 70
School: Carlisle (VA)
AAU: Team Loaded NC
Other Offers: FSU, Virginia Tech, Cincinnati, and Miami
Harris is a talented and flashy PG originally from Chapel Hill, NC who now plays at the Carlisle School up in Virginia. He transferred to Montverde Academy in Florida prior to his junior season last December and accompanied the move with a reclassification to 2016 before opting to return to Carlisle and switch back to the 2017 class this spring.
The first thing you will notice in the video is that his game has a lot of flair, but the flash certainly isn’t lacking in substance. Harris put up some excellent numbers at the Scout Focus event this past weekend, posting multiple double-doubles against high-end competition and gaining some praise from scouts. His vision has to be up there as one of the best for the 2017 class and that is why Wake will face some stiff competition for his signature. Miami, Virginia Tech, and Cincinnati are a couple of schools who have offered so far, but Duke, Michigan State, and UNC have all reached out in recent weeks as well.
There’s some encouraging news to it all, however, as 247sports Scouting Director Jerry Meyer gave the Deacs the most recent pick in the Crystal Ball database just two months ago.
6'3 PG Blake Harris had a superb game today at the Scout Focus event. 16 points and 15 assists in afternoon game pic.twitter.com/1SJp6k4t80— Rick Lewis (@Coach_Rick57) June 19, 2015
School: Jay M. Robinson (NC)
AAU: CP3 All-Stars
Other Offers: ODU, Charlotte
Lavar Batts is the type of PG that Wake Forest fans should expect to land if this Deacon team is ever going to turn back into shades of what the program once was. For starters, Batts is a Concord, NC native, and being able to pull-in top players from the #HoopState is a must and always has been a must. Sure, State, UNC, and Duke will always be offering kids like Batts too, but these types of prospects (4*, 50’s-60’s with high potential) are the ones we used to land consistently and have to get back to closing the deal with.
The Deacs already came into the process with a slight advantage with Batts as well, being close family friends with the Miller-McIntire’s in Concord and being very fond of the program for a while now. Batts is a highly athletic playmaking Point Guard whose best attribute is his ability to seemingly get to the rim at will. The only problem is it looks like State has taken an early lead in his recruitment when he revealed to Scout.com this week that the Pack were his favorite at the moment.
These are the recruits that when we look back on Manning’s early years in the program a decade from now we can get the full picture of what went right or wrong. A 4* in-state PG with solid rankings and an already established interest in the program before we even started recruiting him? Now that is the type of prospect that needs to end up wearing the Black and Gold.
School: Corona Del Sol (AZ)
AAU: Team Bayless
Other Offers: Arizona, ASU, UVA
Barcello took an unofficial visit to campus this week that concluded with a scholarship offer while he was already on the east coast for the NBA Top 100 camp. The talented PG has impressed numerous scouts with his ability to make plays happen, whether it be by creating his own shot from range, driving to the rim, or finding the open teammate.
He led his high school Corona del Sol to back-to-back state titles the last two seasons and has earned rave reviews for his "floor general" presence on the court. The catch is that he resides in Arizona, and Tempe isn’t exactly the first city that comes to mind when you think of Wake Forest’s pipeline. The main reason being that if a recruit is from AZ and a 4* or higher, they are almost always knee-high in letters from U of A and ASU by 9th grade, and if they are a 3* or below Wake can spend their time finding any number of decent alternatives closer to home while sparing themselves the hassle and long-distance calls.
In all likelihood, the visit most likely came out of convenience, and the scholarship offer a parting gesture as well, but hey, the fact that a top 50 recruit from the West Coast still thought it would be cool to meet with the staff and check out the campus is a hell of a long way away from where this program was before Manning took over.
Wake Forest has offered 2017 4-star PG Alex Barcello per his father. http://t.co/RKAZMTKcCz
— Jerry Meyer (@jerrymeyer247) June 22, 2015
School: Wheeler (GA)
AAU: Game Elite
Other Offers: Vanderbilt, Xavier, FSU, Kansas State, Texas A&M
Darius Perry is a 6’2 PG out of Powder Springs, GA that Wake Forest offered just a few days ago on June 16th. His strengths certainly are his athleticism and quickness at the PG spot, and he has a solid mid-range jumper to complement his driving ability. I expect Perry’s offer sheet and scouting reports to really start picking up this summer, as while ESPN has him in its Top 60 for 2017, 247sports has barely any information on him in the database. His offer list includes WF, FSU, Kansas St., Xavier, Texas A&M, and Vanderbilt, though there was word that Kentucky was watching him last fall as well.
Certainly Perry won’t be lacking in offers by the time his junior season concludes, but it remains to be seen if Wake’s staff will label him as a priority with a few talented PG recruits already in the NC area and easier to get on campus.
Wake Forest has offered 2017 Game Elite guard Darius Perry @ny2lasports
— Corey Evans (@coreyevans_10) June 15, 2015
School: South Kent (CT)
AAU: New England Playaz
Other Offers: UConn, Purdue, Seton Hall, St. Johns
Waters is a top 10 PG in the 2017 class no questions asked. Though he is on the smaller side (I’ve seen him listed anywhere from 5’9 145 to 5’11 164), what he lacks in size he makes up for with some serious ball handling skills and a veteran’s like feel for the game. Watch the tape below and see for yourself. There’s a reason UConn has not just been on him, but on him for a while. And while we’re on the topic of the Huskies, the most natural comparison that comes to mind when watching Waters is Shabazz Napier. The handle, the pull up jumper, the space-creating ability; It’s all there.
If Waters goes on a late growth spurt over the next two years there’s a real chance he breaks into the top 20 of the class, but regardless of size he’s a premier prospect that Wake would love to have. Stealing out of UConn’s backyard for a top PG recruit will be tough, but no tougher than the highway robbery from Georgetown Manning pulled with Bryant Crawford in DC last year.
Visits today include Tremont Waters to St. Johns, Clayton Hughes to Tennessee, Payton Pritchard to Wisconsin, and Tevin Mack to Wake Forest
— Corey Evans (@coreyevans_10) June 23, 2014
That concludes part 1 of my summer 2017 Wake Forest Basketball Recruiting Breakdown. I’ll have the second part of the series, a feature on the top wing prospects Danny Manning is targeting for this class, posted in the next week with updates on SG and SF targets. Until then, you can follow me on twitter @DeacFan3 for more frequent and daily updates on all things Wake Forest recruiting.