While a national championship season will surely garner some buzz and allure among recruits, Jay Wright and his staff have already gone to work to put forth that extra step in the recruiting process. They did so shortly after the championship game, watching various high school players.
They have five-star power forward/center Omari Spellman (St. Thomas More School, Conn.) and versatile big man Dylan Painter (Hershey, Pa.) locked in to arrive this fall. As for the Class of 2017 recruiting, the Wildcats received their first verbal commitment in late April. Local product Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree, from Philadelphia’s Neumann-Goretti High School, is a solid shot blocker and finisher around the rim.
As for the rest of the process, there’s still plenty of time for players to mull through their options and make their decisions. By the time summer is over, expect the recruiting landscape to be shaken up. With about a month left before the start of the July live periods, here are 10 rising high school seniors to watch for:
1. Lonnie Walker (Reading, Pa./Team Final): Without a doubt, he is one of the best players in Pennsylvania and is rated amongst the top 25 overall in his class by a handful of different outlets. His high athleticism on both sides of the court makes him a highly sought after player. Don’t let Walker’s six point performance in the PIAA Class AAAA semifinal blowout loss to Taylor Allderdice take away from his season or deter his image. He plays with a great balance between slashing and shooting, and can hurt teams on the fast break. Villanova offered him early in the game, but other big names are starting to take notice–Kentucky, UConn, Virginia, and Syracuse, to name a few.
2. Mohamed Bamba (Westtown, Pa./PSA Cardinals): Hailing from the same high school that produced Daniel Ochefu, Bamba is looking like the next great big man with loads of upside. Bamba has been listed amongst the top five recruits nationally by ESPN and 247sports. The 6-11, 210 pound center, who boasts a 7-foot-8 wingspan, is a tremendous shot blocker and dunker, and was an important piece in helping Westtown to its first state title. Putback dunks and alley-oops aren’t the only weapons in his arsenal, as he has shown that he can take and make the three. Bamba can drain his jumpers with confidence, making him far from a one-dimensional player. With Cosby-Roundtree already committed, it is unsure how that will affect Bamba’s status. The big man plans on cutting down his long list of suitors in August. It would be a huge pickup for Wright to land Bamba on the Main Line and away from the likes of Kentucky, North Carolina, Duke, Louisville, and Maryland.
3. Trevon Duval (Advanced Prep International, Texas/We R1): Wright sure loves his guards, and Duval consistently ranks as the top point guard across the board. He belongs to the group of new-age point guards, looking to attack the basket and score, as opposed to the traditional mold of pass-first point guards. Duval is a quick, explosive guard that can finish around the rim once he blows by his defenders. He can do so by either rising up and throwing down a dunk, or with a finesse, crafty layup. Even in a clogged lane or with contact, he will find a way to score. His jumpers are getting better over time, gradually making him more of an all-around scoring threat. Defensively, he can tango with the best of them around the perimeter, using his fast feet to stay with opposing ball handlers. Aside from Villanova, Duval has Kansas, Maryland, Louisville, Miami, Oklahoma, and over a dozen more schools knocking on his door.
4. D.J. Harvey Jr. (DeMatha Catholic, Md./Team Takeover): Villanova must have been delighted to hear that it made the next round of cuts for Harvey, who narrowed his list down from 16 to nine schools in early May. Harvey is a solid scorer and excels doing so when he is in motion–off the dribble, catch and shoot, and occasionally, via step backs. He is great at the mid-range and decent from beyond the arc. He plays well with the ball in his hands and can create his own space for shots. Harvey isn’t afraid to take it inside and finish strong through contact. His spot up shooting needs a bit more work but if he gets to shoot while in a rhythm or off of the bounce, he will have a better chance of making it. He told 247sports that he “likes winners” and that Villanova, Notre Dame, Texas, Arizona and Duke are “virtual locks” to make his next round of cuts.
5. Hameir Wright (Albany Academy for Boys, N.Y./Albany City Rocks): Also offered by fellow Big East schools Seton Hall and Georgetown, and a handful of AAC teams, Wright is starting to get the attention of some bigger programs. Villanova was there early, but Maryland and West Virginia both offered him, and Kentucky is starting to get involved. The 6-7, 195 pound Albany native primarily played at the four for his school. His size and length has attracted coaches’ attention, just like his reliable hook shot to finish around the basket. He’s starting to become an asset in the high post and at the three-point line. With his agile footwork and flashes of a useable euro step, it’s very possible that he may be converted to a big wing at the collegiate level or somewhere down the line. Wright has the tools and the frame to have an impact on both ends of the court, he will need good coaching and development to really tap into that high potential.
6. Jermaine Samuels (The Rivers School, Mass./Expressions Elite): Samuels is looking like another sizable wing with great scoring ability. He definitely excels more on the offensive end of the court, using his athleticism and a 205 pound frame to get to the basket. He can take it inside and score in various ways. Samuels is a solid rebounder and can clean up the offensive glass, and can also be an attacking threat in transition. While he is able to make some jumpers, he is best from anywhere inside the 18 foot range. An injury kept a number of schools away last season but a solid summer showing should bring them right back. Samuels is being pursued by Big East schools such as Villanova, Xavier, Marquette, and Providence. He has also been offered by a couple of other schools.
7. Chris Lykes (Gonzaga College High School, Md./Team Takeover): Per City of Basketball Love’s Josh Verlin, Lykes cut his list of schools to just five–Notre Dame, Villanova, Georgetown, Miami, and VCU. However, Lykes also said that he is open to new schools as well. Don’t let his 5-foot-8, 150 pound exterior fool you. He plays with the confidence as if he is twice his size and has the results to back that up. It’s the same fired up feel similar to another Gonzaga College High School alumnus, Kris Jenkins. Lykes is a shifty, agile player and uses this to his advantage. He has great handles, solid court vision and can distribute or score when needed. Lykes has a trusty pull up shot and works well off of ball screens. He pushed up his visit to Villanova up to this weekend.
8. Brandon Randolph (Westtown, Pa./PSA Cardinals): After months of being examined by Villanova’s coaching staff, they extended an offer to the Yonkers, N.Y. native. Other programs are starting to take notice, as he has over 20 offers to his name. Wright watched him a couple of times and although he wasn’t lights out in those games, he still sees the value in Randolph. He lives up to the saying, “Shoot ’em up, sleep in the streets.” Randolph is a scoring threat from beyond the arc and when he gets into a rhythm, he is very dangerous for opposing defenders. He can score from other areas on the floor and his defensive ability has increased since transferring to Westtown from the Masters School (N.Y.) for his junior season. His stock will continue to rise as the summer unfolds.
9. Jordan Tucker (Archbishop Stepinac, N.Y./NY RENS): Basketball fans in the northeast have known this guy for quite a while, tracking him since he was a freshman. He is another great fit for Villanova’s three-point heavy offense, as he can knock them down at a high clip. He is a threat to score whenever he has some space to pull up at mid-range or from beyond the arc. However, he’s trying to prove to scouts and coaches alike that he’s far from being a one-trick pony. Tucker is working on his finishing ability and building upon the tools to make him a more complete guard or wing, and not just a predictable shooter. Villanova seems to be falling out of the mix, and according to 247sports he may be headed for rival Syracuse. If not, he has over a dozen of offers to select from.
10. Quade Green (Neumann-Goretti, Pa./PSA Cardinals): With Cosby-Roundtree coming to the Main Line, another Neumann-Goretti Saint can possibly join him too. Green, a 5-11, 155 pound point guard, has made some noise over the last couple years on the AAU circuit and at the Philadelphia basketball powerhouse. He has shown audiences that he is a tough, smart player on both ends of the court. While he lacks ideal size, he is an athletic scoring point guard that can also run half court sets well. He can score off the dribble and is comfortable finishing around the rim or pulling up from long range. Will Villanova keep him in the local area, or will he leave for the likes of Louisville, Michigan State, Kansas, Arizona, and some of the other big programs that have offered him?