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Wake Forest Basketball Recruiting: July Live Period Update

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The first of the three July evaluation periods is officially in the books for college basketball. Where do we stand with our main targets and who are some new names to look out for?

Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports

We are officially 1/3 of the way through the July evaluation period for college basketball and so far there has been a lot interesting news for Wake Forest recruiting. Last week began with some surprising and unfortunate news breaking, when 5* SF target Jon Isaac decided to commit to home-state FSU seemingly out of nowhere. Wake had made Isaac’s Top Twelve that was released last month, but it was widely considered that we were even one of the top 3 or 4 contenders for his commitment. The bad news is it didn’t seem like it was as tight a race as we all might have thought. The good news is if he was dead-set on FSU to begin with, his unexpected commitment saves Danny Manning and the staff some time that they can now dedicate to more realistic prospects. Who might some of those prospects be and how did they play over the weekend? Here’s an updated look at the main 2016 recruiting targets, many of whom the staff dedicated some time to watch in the first evaluation period. There are some fresh faces in the mix which is exciting to see as we continue to ponder who will join Brandon Childress as a member of the 2016 class when it is all said and done. Look through and enjoy, Deacs.

Here's a brief breakdown of all the realistic targets on my big-board after the first July evaluation period. Those in red are players who were on the last edition of the big-board, but have since been removed. Those in blue are new additions to the list, and of course the italicized/underlined players are committed to WF (Only Childress at the moment).

Point Guards

Brandon Childress

High School: Wesleyan Christian Academy (NC)

AAU Team: Karolina Diamonds

Rankings:

-247sports: 3* 154

-ESPN: 3* UR

-Rivals: 3* UR

Committed to Wake Forest

Little Chill had a fantastic week playing in a couple showcases for different teams across the east coast. He played at the UA All-America camp to start the week and had a decent showing there, but his game really came alive at the Elite 32 showcase during the weekend for the Karolina Diamonds. In a game against HeatCheck on Friday with over 60 college coaches watching, Childress led all scorers with 24 points and had 4 threes at the half. He also led his team to a 59-46 victory over Nike South Beach with a team-high 20 points that included 4 more makes from downtown. There’s no denying that Childress is a knockdown shooter and he put that on display all weekend long earning him rave reviews from scouts. I think we got ourselves a steal ladies and gentlemen, and I can’t wait to see Brandon in the Black and Gold.

Dennis Smith

High School: Trinity Christian School

AAU: Team Loaded (NC)

Rankings:

-247sports: 5* 8

-ESPN: 5* 4

-Rivals: 5* 4

Other offers from: Louisville, Duke, UNC, NC State, Kansas

The most recent recruiting update on the blue chip Point Guard is that Wake made his final six that he announced last week. This wasn't that much of a surprise, however, as the possibility to play with Giles at the next level always meant Wake would be in the running with Smith as long as long as HG was still considering the Deacs. Smith put up an 18 point, 5 assist performance to start off the week at the Adidas Gauntlet in Atlanta and then a double-double against Texas Pro Skills with John Calipari and John Wall watching. His last game of the week he struggled scoring, shooting only 4-14 from the field, but made up for it on the glass as he brought down 8 boards and added 6 assists as well. Smith remains a long-shot at this point to be a Deacon and I can only see us landing him if Giles commits first, which also become more unlikely when his best friend Jayson Tatum picked Duke Sunday afternoon. The odds aren’t really in our favor for Smith, but as long as he keeps listing us, I’ll keep listing him and hoping for the best.

Shooting Guards

Kwe Parker

High School: Wesleyan Christian Academy (NC)

AAU Team: Karolina Diamonds

Rankings:

-247sports: 4* 60

-ESPN: 4* 90

Rivals: 4* 90

Other offers from: Rutgers, Virginia Tech, ECU

Parker suited up for the Karolina Diamonds as well towards the end of the week and played with his Wesleyan Christian Academy teammate Brandon Childress at the Elite 32 camp. He had 10 points in the matchup against Nike South Beach with two of those buckets being from behind the arc. Stats from the Elite 32 camp are hard to come by, but his games were often packed to the brim with a number of coaches on the sidelines. Of course, many of these coaches might have been coming to see other targets, but it will be interesting to see if he picks up any other offers in the next week given the attention his games were getting. In regards to his timeline, it still seems like the plan is to visit WF last and then decide by the start of school. He has no other visits scheduled at the moment and Wake picked up some Crystal Ball momentum too in the last week as analysts started backing down from their Rutgers picks. I feel pretty confident Kwe is going to be a Deac, but we will just have to wait and see.

Richard Washington

High School: Walsingham Academy (VA)

AAU: Team Loaded (VA)

Rankings:

-247sports: UR

-ESPN: UR

-Rivals: 3* UR

Other offers from: ECU, ODU, Cincinnati, JMU

Even though the 2016 class only has 1 commit so far, one has to be impressed with Manning and co.’s ability to identify premier talent in the shadows before any other programs really have a clue. First it was Jon Isaac, who jumped from being a low 4* to a top 10 player in the country all in the timeframe after his WF offer. Then Javin DeLaurier saw a meteoric rise to his rankings this spring and went from having the Deacs as one of his few offers to getting calls from Duke and Georgetown regularly. If I was going to put money on who would be the next WF target in line for a massive spike this summer, it would be Richard Washington hands down. Simply put, Washington put on a show for Team Loaded (VA) last week, knocking down 3’s at incredibly efficient rates (44%) and being a star on a team that is widely considered a Top 10 squad in the country. He posted a 17 point, 4 rebound, 4 assist game on Thursday and played very well down the stretch to lead his team to a 74-72 OT victory over Dream Vision at the Adidas Gauntlet. He then followed that performance up with 21 points on 5 of 9 threes against Texas Pro Skills the next day, which had multiple scouts tweeting out their strong impressions of the 6’5 southpaw. A new highlight video of Washington also came out Sunday afternoon and you can see his unconscious performance from this past week, including him showing no mercy and draining a couple attempts from Jimmer-range. It’s great that Manning got on Richard early, because playing on a high-profile team during these live periods and performing like that is only going to lead to more recruiting competition throughout the summer. Staying on him and setting an official visit in August are likely the next steps in the process.

Zach Norvell

High School: Simeon (IL)

AAU: Mac Irvin Fire

Rankings:

-247sports: 3* 153

-ESPN: 4* 85

-Rivals: 4* 92

Other offers from: Illinois, Memphis, Purdue, Depaul

Zach Norvell is a name many Deacon fans might not be familiar with and that’s because no one had much of a clue we were still following him until this past week. Wake offered the 4* Shooting Guard out of Simeon back in mid-May, but there had been no news since then that indicated he was interested in us or vice versa until now. The staff stopped in to watch multiple games of his at the Peach Jam as he played for Mac Irvin Fire, clearly indicating he is still one of the main targets on the board. He had 12 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists against Team Takeover on Thursday and 20 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 steals against Team Final on Saturday, which was his best performance of the weekend. Some of the other schools he mentioned that were recruiting him the hardest were Georgetown, Illinois, Xavier, Depaul, and Purdue, though the Illini are likely the leaders at the moment given how Coach Groce has been talking to him for a long time now and the two have a good relationship. It’s important to note Simeon High is in Chicago and two of his former high school teammates play for Groce at Illinois now. There’s still a lot of work to be done if we have any chance at landing Norvell, but it’s a nice surprise to see us still in the running after a few months in the dark on his recruitment.

Eli Wright

High School: Apollo (KY)

AAU: Hoop Dreams

Rankings:

-247sports: 4* 110

-ESPN: UR

-Rivals: 3* 125

Other offers from: Indiana, Tennessee, Clemson, Oklahoma State

Eli Wright had a breakout week for Hoop Dreams at the Adidas Uprising event down in Atlanta last week. On Wednesday he had 16 points and went 7-10 from the FT line in a losing effort to Team Magic Elite. The following day he had a 20 point, 4 assist, 4 rebound day vs Team Fast Elite and then wrapped up the week with his best performance yet; a 26 point, 5 rebound game against Jalen Johnson and Team Wall. The Friday performance was enough to earn him four offers in the span of an hour from USF, USC, Depaul, and Mississippi State. He also announced he would take an official visit to Wake on August 1 following the July evaluation periods, which is excellent news considering updates had been minimal on the proposed visit since May. Wright would be a phenomenal addition to the class and I’m glad Manning will have the opportunity to show him around campus next month and introduce him to some of the current players. If all goes well it just might be the last visit he takes and we’ll have our Shooting Guard for the 2016 class.

Mario Kegler

High School: Oak Hill (VA)

AAU: MBA Hoops

Rankings:

-247sports: 4* 30

-ESPN: 4* 36

-Rivals: 4* 29

Other offers from: ASU, UCONN, Mississippi State, Tennessee, Ohio State

Kegler is another talented 4* recruit that is now back on our radar after Danny Manning took time to watch a couple of his games this weekend. Kegler was offered by Wake back in late April, but that was the last we had heard of him being a realistic target until it became clear the staff was watching him heavily at the Adidas Uprising Gauntlet. For those unfamiliar with the name, the Shooting Guard hails from Jackson, MS and is widely considered a top 40 player in the nation. He also played like a top 40 player in the nation over the weekend, posting 23.5 PPG and 7 RPG in two games against Texas Pro Skills and Stackhouse Elite on Wednesday and Thursday in Atlanta. He then dropped 20 at the Battle of the Best Charlotte showcase on Saturday to close out a very successful first Live period. OSU, LSU, UCONN, Miss St, ASU, and Tennessee are some of Wake’s competition, but the list will inevitably grow if he continues to play like that for the rest of the evaluation periods.

Kam McGusty

High School: Seven Lakes (TX)

AAU: Houston Defenders

Rankings:

-247sports: 4* 49

-ESPN: 4* 40

-Rivals: 4* 36

Other offers from: OU, Texas, Louisville, Indiana

The 4* CG played at the UA All-America Camp for the first evaluation period for his local team the Houston Defenders. His ability to get to the free throw line was highlighted by multiple scouts online and his play was enough to earn him a spot on the UA All-America First Team and a shoutout from ESPN CBB analyst Fran Fraschilla on twitter as you can see below. I mentioned last week how I thought we might have arrived too late to the party for McGusty and I stand by that statement still. It also might not have mattered what time we arrived for him because he’s been really high on Oklahoma for a while now and his AAU teammate and Texas A&M commit JJ Caldwell is actively trying to recruit him to be an Aggie. Shaka Smart and UT are also heavily recruiting him now and I can’t really see a scenario of him turning down those local schools to come east to play college ball for a team that offered late in the game. The decommitment from 4* PG Payton Pritchard to Oklahoma can’t hurt in our chances to land McGusty, but I still think it’s a long shot he becomes a Deacon. Fortunately, SG is a position Wake already has numerous other targets at and Manning has a good relationship with many of them.

Quinton Rose

High School: Bishop Kearny (NY)

AAU: Albany City Rocks

Rankings:

-247sports: UR

-ESPN: 4* UR

-Rivals: 3* UR

Other offers from: Miami, FSU, Providence, Memphis, Northwestern

Quinton Rose is another wing who Wake is apparently a lot more in the mix with than most people realized. His recruitment has been on the quieter side, but his offer list is very respectable with FSU, Memphis, SMU, Penn St, and Providence all extending scholarships along with Wake. His rankings are a bit confusing, however, as ESPN has him as a solidified 4* prospect, rivals has him as a 3*, and 247sports doesn’t even have him ranked. He played for the Albany City Rocks at the Peach Jam over the weekend, and though his team went 0-4, Rose put together a few decent games in the absence of star guard Kevin Huerter. He averaged 7.2 PPG, 3.2 RPG, and 1.2 APG for the tournament. He actually ran a fair amount of Point Guard later on in the week and a few scouts were impressed with his playmaking ability even though he traditionally plays as a wing. On Saturday he was doing a little bit of everything, scoring 13 points, and adding 4 assists, 4 steals, and 4 rebounds in a loss to The Family Detroit. He also got to the foul line a lot, but could only make 3 of his 10 trips to the charity strike count. I think Wake is very much in the running for Rose and I wouldn’t be surprised if he takes a visit after the live period in August. The four most likely targets to fill up the two wing scholarships for the 2016 class I believe are Parker, Wright, Washington, and now Rose.

Small Forwards

Jalen Johnson

High School: Wesleyan Christian Academy (NC)

AAU: Team Wall

Rankings:

-247sports: 3* 196

-ESPN: 3* UR

-Rivals: 3* 145

Other offers from: Clemson, Alabama, South Carolina, Miami, ODU

Jalen Johnson struggled to make a big impact in his first two games at the Adidas Uprising event, but finished the week very strong for Team Wall U17. He put up great numbers on Friday, leading the team with 22 points on 8 of 14 shooting and adding 5 rebounds to his name as well. He had a 19 point, 7 rebound performance on Saturday as well and picked up offers from Alabama, Miami, and South Carolina. Clemson has already been on his tail for a couple months now and likely is the leader for him at the moment. I’m surprised Wake hasn’t been more involved with Johnson as of late, but as was the case with Norvell, maybe things are simply under-the-radar and the staff plans on watching him more during the next two live periods.

De’Riante Jenkins

High School: West Oaks Academy (FL)

AAU: Upward Stars

Rankings

-247sports: 4* 65

-ESPN: 4* 61

-Rivals: 4* 63

Other offers from: Clemson, Missouri, Indiana, Tennessee

The Wake Forest SF target had a strong week for Upward Stars at the Adidas Uprising event over his three games. He averaged 18.3 PPG and 6.7 RPG in total, with his best performance being a 28 point, 4 rebound game against the Michigan Mustangs in which he shot 73% from the field and 67% from downtown. He also demonstrated his effectiveness to get to the rim and draw contact, shooting a season-high 16 free throws in the close loss. As for his recruiting process, an article on Clemson insider indicated he is very high on the Tigers, and talks to the staff "pretty much every day." He also listed Texas and Indiana as those making a hard push for him in addition to Clemson. Narrowing his list down in August before taking official visits is the next step and it will be interesting to see if Wake makes the cut. It’s important to note that Jenkins’ decision is indirectly linked to Jalen Johnson’s as well, as both are top Clemson targets but very similar players and play the same position. I doubt Clemson would take both, so if one commits to the Tigers first, Wake’s door for the other likely opens up dramatically.

Power Forwards

Javin DeLaurier

High School: St. Anne's-Belfield (VA)

AAU: Team Loaded (VA)

Rankings:

-247sports: 4* 61

-ESPN: 4* 49

-Rivals:4* 40

Other offers from: Vanderbilt, Louisville, UNC, Texas, Florida, Georgetown

DeLaurier suited up with Richard Washington for Team Loaded (VA) at the Adidas Uprising event and had his usual high-energy, highly-efficient type of tournament. He only posted 1 double-double for the weekend, but nearly averaged one throughout the tournament (13 PPG, 9.3 RPG) with numerous top programs from across the nation watching. His first game on Wednesday had Coach K, Roy Williams, Mike Brey, Shaka Smart, and Johnny Dawkins all join Manning on the sidelines to watch his team take on Mass Rivals. Rick Pitino got in on the action later in the week to check out the Virginia big man. It is going to be very tough to even get DeLaurier to take an official visit to Wake given all his other options now, but I highly doubt the staff will back away from recruiting him given how much effort they have already put in over the last few months with the 4* prospect.

Wenyen Gabriel

High School: Wilbraham and Monson Academy (MA)

AAU: Mass Rivals

Rankings:

-247sports: 4* 102

-ESPN: 4* 84

-Rivals: 4* 84

Other offers from: Maryland, BC, Providence, UCONN, UVA, Vanderbilt

Gabriel was another Wake target who had a solid showing at the Adidas Uprising event down in Atlanta. Playing for Mass Rivals, he averaged a double-double for the tournament with 13.3 PPG and 12.0 RPG. He also showed off his rim-protecting ability with 4 blocks against the NE Playaz and Team Loaded (VA) early in the week. His strong play led to some high P5 offers as well, with Texas and Notre Dame joining the list of suitors that is beginning to resemble movie credit-length more and more by the week. He labeled Maryland, UVA, Vanderbilt, Providence, UCONN, and BC as schools making him a priority in an interview with scout.com’s Evan Daniels, but Wake only just offered a few weeks ago after he had visited some of these other schools already. He also mentioned he plans on cutting his list down at the end of the July periods, which means WF has only a few weeks left to make a big enough impression and join those other programs as possible destinations for the talented PF.

Harry Giles

High School: Wesleyan Christian Academy (NC)

AAU: Team CP3

Rankings:

-247sports: 5* 2

-ESPN: 5* 1

-Rivals: 5* 2

Other offers from: UK, Kansas, Duke, UNC

It wasn’t the best weekend in terms of hearing news about Harry becoming a future Deacon. One of his best friends since middle-school and the #2 overall player in the nation Jayson Tatum committed to Duke Sunday afternoon over hometown St. Louis and Kentucky. Tatum then went on to affirm that he would be doing "a little recruiting of my own" in regards to getting Harry to join him in Durham, and that is the last thing Wake needed when out-recruiting Coach K on its own is a near impossible task. Analysts all over Twitter were indicating Giles is likely to follow, and to be frank, the dream of having the Winston-Salem native home for college is looking slightly bleaker now than it was a month ago. That isn’t to say his LOI to Duke is signed, sealed, and delivered, but efforts on Ekiyor, Froling, Freeman, Gabriel, and DeLaurier should all be ramped up in the chance he does pick the Blue Devils. Ekiyor, DeLaurier, and Gabriel are types of targets we need to be able to prove we can land year-in and year-out if we want to get back to where we were a decade ago and they should all be a high-priority over these next few weeks. And in case you needed a reminder about how good Giles is, here were some of his PTS/REBs stats from the weekend: 25 and 11, 8 and 11, 14 and 20, 26 and 7, 18 and 6, 20 and 14, 12 and 14. His team got bounced by Tatum’s in the semifinals on a desperation 3PA just moments after he put Team CP3 up 2 with seconds to go.

Eddie Ekiyor

High School: New Hampton Prep (NH)

AAU Team: CIA Bounce

Rankings:

-247sports: 3* 130

-ESPN: 4* UR

-Rivals: 4* 94

Other offers from: Xavier, Vanderbilt, Oregon, Kansas St, Florida

Finally, I have some Eddie Ekiyor news to report! I mentioned in my last piece that I wasn’t sure if we were still recruiting Ekiyor based on how quiet everything had been over the last 6 months. There had been no real update on where WF stood with the Canadian big man since the winter and I speculated that Manning might have moved on to other PF’s in the meantime. However, this past week we heard the good news that Wake Forest is still in the running for Ekiyor as he mentioned the Deacs as one of the schools on his list in an interview with CanadianBallers.com. He plans on going on 4 or 5 visits after the July live periods and then deciding around August or September. Having barely any recruiting news about him for 6 months to deciding as soon as August seems like a quick turnaround, but clearly he’s been having a lot more contact with programs this spring and summer then has been reported. Being one of those 4 or 5 visits I think is absolutely crucial for Danny and the staff, as Ekiyor is a high-potential prospect that should be near the top of the big-board now as the addition of Javin DeLaurier, and even Giles, seems less and less likely as the summer rolls on.

Centers

Rodney Miller

High School: Oak Hill (VA)

AAU: NY Lightning

Rankings:

-247sports: 4* 94

-ESPN: 4* UR

-Rivals: 4* 93

Other offers from: Miami, Seton Hall, UVA, Georgia Tech

Miller was on the roster for NY Lightning at the EYBL Peach Jam, but wasn’t getting any playing time and I can’t seem to find the reason why. He’s the only guy on the roster with 0 minutes played in every game of the tournament so I suspect an injury or other complication would have to be the reason for his lack of game-time. Hopefully he is back in action with the NY Lightning for the next two live periods and I can provide some updates on his play. Wake Forest in all likelihood remains the favorite for the Oak Hill C and an official visit this fall seems imminent.

The first July Live period offered us some nice surprises and a lot of top targets playing some excellent basketball on big stages. This week should be just as entertaining as there are a number of top recruits in action once again across the country and we can have a better idea of the guys we are recruiting heavily based on the amount of time the staff dedicates to them. Commitments will likely wait until August and September so for now we can just imagine the possibilities and combinations of the 2016 class to the best of our ability and enjoy some entertaining basketball.

For more daily and frequent updates on Wake Forest recruiting throughout the live periods you can follow me on Twitter @DeacFan3.