While we often consider how busy July is for college basketball coaches, particularly one as mobile as Coach Cal, let’s not forget that is just as hectic, if not more so, for the high school players participating in the tournaments. These kids spend an entire month criss-crossing the country only to perpetually play basketball in unfamiliar gyms. But in the process, they hope to make a name for themselves, or if they’re already well-known, to dominate the competition in a search for better and better offers. Let’s take an admittedly biased look at which Top Ten UK targets did the most to improve their stock during the July recruiting period:
6) Jabari Parker – Parker went from unanimous, universal #1 player in the country, complete with Sports Illustrated cover, to being completely overshadowed by Andrew Wiggins. A foot injury in the middle of the month will do that to you. There’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that Parker is a tremendous player with ridiculous size and skill, but sitting out the last couple weeks of this important month didn’t help him. Starting to show a little bit of Duke lean really didn’t help him. Now, everyone is talking about other wings like James Young and Wiggins. When you’re at the top, the only way to go is down, unfortunately. Look for Parker to capitalize on a healthy recovery later this year by dominating on fools. He’s got a little ground to make up after July.
5) Julius Randle – Randle had the unfortunate luck of going up against Andrew Wiggins head-to-head last month, and Wiggins showcased just what people have come to expect over the last 31 days (more on that later). Though his team lost, Randle played very respectably, finishing with a double-double. However, it isn’t the sort of press you want as a player, and there’s no doubt that Randle is hungry to redeem himself.
4) Harrison Twins – Aaron had the ignominious honor of being supplanted by Young as ESPN’s top 2-guard, but these siblings have nothing to complain about during the month of July. Already considered one of the best package-deals of all time, the duo is an instant backcourt, and really have their pick of schools. Andrew maintained his grasp on the top point guard spot, and we all know how much Cal likes to nab the top point guard in any given class. People expected the Harrisons to impress, and they did just that. It’s hard to get to the top; it’s harder staying there. That the Harrisons didn’t see a lot of change in their standing during July is a good thing.
3) Aaron Gordon – Ask a Kentucky fan, and Gordon helped himself most by listing Kentucky in his top three. He also capitalized on Jabari’s injury to take up some of the space in fans’ attentions. At 6’7″, many services disagree on whether he’s a small forward or power forward, but a player as talented as that is probably able to play a couple of positions effectively. Gordon has been one of those “under the radar” type guys lately, but his competitive spirit and loads of hustle are likely to make him a popular name in Kentucky over the next few months.
2) James Young – The 6’6″ Young actually managed to usurp Aaron Gordon as ESPN’s #1 shooting guard in the class, and is currently ranked 5th overall, behind only Parker, Randle, Andrew Harrison, and Gordon. Young has probably seen the most vertical movement of a lot of guys on the list, considering he started well outside the top ten as a fringe five-star player. After displaying considerable scoring ability, he sits comfortably in the top ten. He seems to have reciprocated the most interest in Kentucky, and many thought he might commit before the month was out. Now August, Young’s recruitment becomes a waiting game.
1) Andrew Wiggins – Unquestionably July’s biggest winner, and he’s not even in the same class as the other guys. Wiggins blew everyone away at the Peach Jam, including our own Matt Jones. Folks knew he was good, but they didn’t know it was like that. Wiggins has gone from impressive myth to terrifying reality, and every fan, coach, or prospect on the planet wants him on their team. An ultra-competitor, Wiggins didn’t hesitate to shut down Julius Randle (who played well, but not Julius Randle-well) in their head-to-head matchup, and afterward indicated that he deserved to be the number one player in the country. Who’s going to disagree with him? ::crickets::
Player who helped himself least in July:
Chris Walker – Signed with Florida. Worst. July. Ever.