Things have been pretty quiet the last few months on the basketball recruiting front after the flurry right after Kevin Keatts was hired. Al Freeman and Sam Hunt were brought in as fifth year transfers, CJ Bryce and Devon Daniels were brought in as traditional transfers. Lavar Batts and Braxton Beverly were brought in as incoming freshman and Jamie Lewis got the class of 2018 off and running.
Coach Keatts and crew are now focused on building a recruiting class that will build the foundation for the beginning of the Keatts’ era.
The guard/wing position is loaded for the next 3-4 years, even considering that Keatts will play up to 4 guards/wings at a time. With Jamie Lewis on board, I’m not sure if there’s room for another guard in this class but the coaches will certainly keep their options open, especially because Lewis has had injury issues, which is part of the reason his stock has fallen.
Ayo Dosunmu appears to be the only guard we are seriously recruiting. He recently released his top 11(sure?) which included the Pack. State and Wake Forest are the only eastern teams included. Between the location and the playing time, don’t count on Dosunmu even taking an official visit here, let alone ever running with the Pack.
Obviously, the front court is the primary focus for Keatts. Malik Abu and Lennard Freeman are seniors this year, and Omer Yurtseven ideally is headed to the pros after this year. That leaves Darius Hicks. Reinforcements are needed. The two clear, main targets are Jairus Hamilton and Immanuel (Manny) Bates.
Hamilton is the ideal small ball 4 in Keatts’ system. He has slipped a little bit in the rankings but is a consensus top 75 guy with a high ceiling. Hamilton has plenty of power five offers but it appears to be a battle that will come down to the Pack and the Tar Heels. Hamilton would be the first signature recruit for Kevin Keatts and it would be extra sweet to beat out UNC-CH.
Manny Bates is a 6-9 rim protector who is raw offensively but has improved. He’s ranked around 100 on the recruiting services. His offer list isn’t as impressive as Hamilton but Bates narrowed his list to seven and it included State, Louisville, Georgia Tech, South Carolina, Georgetown, Xavier and DePaul. He is apparently going to sign during the fall period which likely favors the Pack.
Of course, we still have other targets with so many scholarships opening up.
David McCormack is not only a big time recruit, but also a very big person (6-10 and 260 pounds, and he’s lost a lot of weight). Duke and Oklahoma State appear to be the favorites here.
Jericole Hellems has had a big summer and is rising up the rankings. He’s a small forward who can shoot. His final 7 includes the Pack, both Techs, South Carolina, Mizzou, Arkansas and Florida.
Saddiq Bey is honestly somebody I have no idea about but he announced us in his top six this weekend along with Miami, Pitt, Princeton, Northwestern and Xavier. Google tells me he is a small forward consistently ranked in the top 100 of the 2018 class.
We’ve thrown our hat into the ring with some highly rated recruits who we probably won’t get but it’s worth a shot, and hey, when we win the national championship, maybe they’ll reconsider. Zion Williamson, Jaylen Hoard, Nazreon Reid, Keldon Johnson, Louis King, Nassir Little and Simisola Shittu are among these names.
This is where things stand now. We need to lock up Hamilton and Bates in the fall and go from there. If we have a drama free spring where we are wondering if we’ll even be able to field a good team, I’ll take it