In April, Jay Wright, the male basketball coach at Villanova, was concerned by a coronovirus epidemic that would damage his ability to recruit players from next year’s high school class.
Because the coaches could not see the players in person or they visited their campuses that month, Wright was not sure how he and his staff would be able to properly evaluate the athletes.
“If it affects us and causes us little harm, then what?” Wright said in April. “Suck it.” There are many more important things going on in our world right now. “
Three months later, his apprehension seems almost bizarre.
Following two recent oral commitments, Wright and his staff now have four rising seniors and are thus the No. 1 recruiting class for 2021, according to the recruiting website 247Sports.com. They include players who could start in the future: Virginia point guard Angelo Brezzi, Pennsylvania guard Jordan Longino, New Jersey small forward Trey Patterson and Delaware big man Nannana Njoku. Under Wright, Villanova has won two of the last four NCAA championships, and these players are eager to be part of the growing tradition.
“We don’t have AAU this year, and generally we will be focused on travel and sports,” Patterson, out of Rutgers Elementary School, said in a phone interview Tuesday. “But due to the epidemic, myself and my family, we have more time to talk to schools and evaluate programs, so I think that kind of accelerated the process.”
In a typical summer, Patterson and a number of other top high school prospects are trying to impress coaches and attract scholarship offers at North Augusta, S.C., or other events across the nation this month.
Now, with the tournament putting a dead period to recruit, at least through August, due to the virus and the NCAA, Patterson verbally committed on June 18 and planned to sign his letter of decline.
Many other schools are also benefiting. Three players each from Baylor, Butler, Ohio State, Southern California, Louisville, Michigan and Florida State were committed for 2021 Wednesday.
“What really pushed the entire recruitment process is epidemic because kids are unsure whether they are ever going to be able to pay in these schools, so they had these virtual visits,” Tom Konchalski, a longtime Recruitment specialist, said in a phone interview. “Obviously, it doesn’t give them a sense for the team, the campus, the coaches, the players, and the whole culture of the school, like they travel when the school is actually in session. But it’s better than nothing is.
Jeff Ngundu, a Canadian elder originally from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, pledged without visiting the New Jersey school for the 2020-21 season at Seton Hall in May. Saquan Singleton similarly dropped out of Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College for New Mexico in April 2020. Both kept in touch with their future coaching staff through videoconferencing and phone calls.
“Unfortunately, I couldn’t go to see this trip but I just felt love and connection,” Singleton said.
Jordan Riley, a former senior guardian at Brentwood High School on Long Island, is committed to Georgetown on Friday after only an hour trip to the university this month with his father, Monty. They were not able to see any students or meet with the basketball team because the campus was closed. He also did not let Georgetown coach Patrick Ewing and his staff know they were on campus.
Yet the trip – with Ewing’s recruiting message on a daily basis – was enough to pledge the 6-foot-4, 185-pound guard for Hoyes over Kansas, Florida State, Connecticut and St. John’s. He had visited St. John’s and Usino, but was unable to visit other campuses.
“I looked at the campus, I saw what I like and I’m ready to go there,” Riley said of Georgetown.
Monty Riley said he wanted to speed up the process because he was getting overwhelmed by calls he would not normally receive in a nonproliferation year.
“It was just a lot of phone calls,” Monty Riley said. “I got 30 phone calls a day. And I am working. I shortened their list and let them go from there. “
Emerging seniors and incoming college freshmen do not commit during an epidemic only.
Amony Bates, the No. 1 prospect in the Class of 2022 out of Michigan, verbally committed to Michigan State last month, more than two years before he would play his first college basketball game.
This may change if Bates is reclassified into a class 2021. And if the NBA’s one-to-one rule is collectively halted by 2022, Bates, who has been compared to a young Kevin Durant, could enter the NBA draft in 2022 and complete college. Can leave like. He can also leave college behind and earn money by entering the G-League’s Pro Pathway program for elite prospects.
For now, however, his college has been decided.
“The epidemic had no effect on the timing of our Michigan state decision,” Amoney’s father Elgin Bates said in a text message. “We chose this time from seventh grade onwards to know what we were thinking. There was no point in waiting or wasting anyone’s recruitment. “
Michigan State made a second pledge in the junior class this week when center Enoch Boacke verbally pledged to coach Tom Izzo’s team.
Some college coaches and others in the game believe that there can be another downside to these initial commitments besides that players have to change their mind before officially signing. They are ready for more transfers – there is an interesting possibility that the NCAA transfer portal already has more than 1,000 players.
Patterson feels that the initial commitment will help Villanova and her future teammates in the long run, giving them more time to get to know each other and expect from each other.
“It is good that we are almost done with our class and we have an opportunity to build relationships with each other and even better with the coaches before coming next year,” he said. “So everyone is very much on the same page.”