These kids grow up playing summer league basketball. It's important. They play with better players. They compete against better teams. They learn how to travel.
For the 2016 class, that summer league career ended this weekend. Now they have one more season of high school basketball. Then it's time for college.
The NCAA recruiting calendar, which is busy in July, now goes quiet until early September. Coaches have spent the past three weeks honing in on 2016 targets, and getting as much face time with 2017 and 2018 players as possible. In July the players learn who really wants them. This weekend's tournaments in Las Vegas are massive. There are so many prospects in Vegas that it's tough for coaches to even visit tournaments in other places. Coaches have to be selective about who they see, and more importantly, who they don't see. The players notice. Many of them will make their college choices in the coming months, and many of those choices come from what happened in July. Who showed the love? Who prioritizes them to safeguard the future of their program, and who was just paying lip service?
DEWAN HUELL, 2016 PF, 5*
Like any 5*, Dewan Huell is on the top of a lot of team's lists. His AAU team (Team Breakdown) attracted a long list of coaches at every game this weekend. He has a lengthy relationship with Miami, and if they miss out on him it will be a massive whiff. So it's no surprise that when he scanned the sidelines of his games he saw the Hurricanes head coach Jim Larranaga. And Larranaga also brought an assistant. Kids pay attention. He'll recognize the love being shown by the Canes.
So Larranaga couldn't have been happy at Saturday's Team Breakdown finale. Coach Hamilton walked in, and with him came the entire Florida State staff. Ham wanted it known in no uncertain terms that Huell is the guy. We'll see if it pays off.
BRANDON ROBINSON, 2016 CG, 4*
Robinson typically plays for the Georgia Stars (with FSU commit Trent Forrest and target Udoka Azubuike), but for his final AAU games he played for Team Loaded NC. Away from the Stars he showed a more aggressive side, and in one game dropped 7-9 3s with Coach Hamilton watching.
As always, the lengthy wing caused all sorts of disruption on defense.
At the beginning of the month he released a top 10 but since then has received a bunch more offers. Still, he stated this weekend that he wants to cut his list to five or six in the coming days.
Florida State and Maryland will be on the list. I'm intrigued to see which other teams will make the cut.
CJ WALKER, 2016, PG, 4*
Walker was in Fort Wayne, IN playing in the Gym Rats Nationals. His team finished as the runner up, and Walker led the way in scoring.
TRENT FORREST, 2016 CG, 4*
Forrest's July went about as well as it could have. His Georgia Stars team won Nike's top event at the Peach Jam. Then his USA South team won the Nike Global Challenge. Now, back with the Stars, they won the Las Vegas Classic and Trent Forrest was the tournament MVP.
UDOKA AZUBUIKE, 2016 C, 5*
The Georgia Stars are so loaded that it's not easy to figure out why coaches are in the stands. Coach K rolled in with his entire staff, but they're targeting 2017 5* Wendell Carter. Coach Calipari was there as well, and it's unclear how much of a priority Azubuike is, or if Calipari is targeting Carter.
KEVIN KNOX II, 2017 PF, 4*
Knox's stock continues to soar, and it's almost a certainty that he ends up ranked as a 5*. Coach Hamilton took in a few of his games, along with half the power 5 head coaches in the nation.
Kevin Knox II is one of the better athletes I've seen this summer. Very explosive at 6'7.
— Dan McDonald (@DMcDonaldRivals) July 25, 2015
TYLER POLLEY, 2017 SF, 4*
Florida State has put in the time with both the Georgia Stars and E1T1. Polley and Knox play together on E1T1 (along with 5* commit Jonathan Isaac), so the coaches get more bang for buck at these games. Polley is in the same mold as Jon Isaac - a SF with incredible length who needs time for his body to develop.
DAVID NICKELBERRY, 2017 Wing
It's not clear what position Nickelberry will settle into, but he's 6-7 with guard skills. Coach Jones spent some time in Tallahassee watching him this weekend, and FSU has been on the Orlando product for a while.