Sunday, May 14, 2017

Recruiting: The 2018 Class

Happy weekend, people. I promised a recruiting post. I'm writing a recruiting post. Full disclosure: I am a novice when it comes to recruiting. I don't follow it closely. Everything written here was researched in the last few days. For a deeper analysis of these players, I would recommend checking out the various recruiting websites such as 247Sport, Rivals, Scout, and there are many others.A good Twitter follow is "Alabama Roundball" (@BamaRoundball). This account does a great job of following Alabama basketball recruiting. The user also has a website (bamabasketball.wordpress.com). They did a good breakdown of some of the 2018 targets in a post from January that adds quite a bit to what I wrote here today. I encourage support of all sites that feed our Alabama basketball addiction so add that site to your favorites if you haven't already.

The 2018 class does not appear to be the powerhouse class that the 2017 class appears to be on paper, but how Avery and his staff fare in signing this class will be no less important. Assuming that the 2017 class proves to be the missing ingredient that can help push the Alabama program over the hump and back into SEC title and NCAA tournament contention, it will be the 18 class that will be significant in making sure that the program stays relevant. The staff have offers for at least 20 players in the class so far, and I'm not going to go into detail for each player because, frankly, some of those players will not seriously consider Alabama. If something changes, I'll do an update and include them in a future post. For now, I want to focus on the players that look like the best bets to schedule visits and seriously consider attending Alabama. Click the player names for links to highlight videos.

Robert Woodard - Columbus, MS - 6'6, 220 lbs - SF - I mentioned Woodard in a previous post, and he remains one of my favorite players that the staff are currently recruiting. 247 Sports currently ranks him in the national top 40, and ranks him as the top player in Mississippi. The first thing that stands out when watching Woodard is he's advanced from a physical standpoint. He could check into a college game right now and hold his own physically. Woodard will likely be an immediate contributor wherever he commits because he's very good on the defensive end. He's a solid ball handler, and a decent shooter. His length, strength and athleticism make it tough to keep him from getting to the rim. I wouldn't be surprised if his stock continues to rise through his senior season. The early favorite for his signature is Mississippi State. Other schools that have offered include Baylor, Iowa State, Florida State, Vanderbilt and Ole Miss.

Brandon Johns - East Lansing, MI - 6'8, 206 lbs - PF - You would think it impossible to sign a high school recruit in Tom Izzo's backyard, but Alabama appears to be in good standing with Johns, the top-ranked recruit in the state of Michigan and nationally ranked 53rd by 247. He reminds me a lot of Villanova's Josh Hart. Johns is a good athlete, but also a skillful player in the highlights I watched. He's a good ball-handler, he can shoot the three, and he appears to be a solid defender. At his size his rebounding could be better, but there's a lot to like. Johns will be a very good college player. Michigan State is obviously the early favorite for his signature. Other schools that have offered include Michigan, Xavier, Creighton, Iowa and  Texas.

T.J. Moss - Memphis, TN - 6'3, 175 lbs - SG - Moss is ranked 126th nationally by 247 and 4th in the state of Tennessee. The videos I've seen show Moss as a solid catch-and-shoot guard, but I didn't see him do much off the dribble so that could be an area of improvement. He appears to be a willing passer and defender. Like most high school recruits he'll need some time to adjust, but there's enough on display to suggest that he could compete for minutes as a freshman. No early favorite yet, but he's earned a number of impressive offers from the likes of Arkansas, Uconn, Florida, Marquette and Georgia Tech, among others. 

D.J. Stewart - Benoit, MS - 6'6, 190 lbs - SF - Stewart appears to be a late bloomer as he's currently unranked at 247 Sports; but his recruiting has picked up as a host of schools - including Alabama - have recently made offers. Mississippi State is the early favorite. Other schools that have offered include Ole Miss, Illinois, Middle Tennessee State, Louisiana Tech and UAB. Stewart's athleticism stands out immediately upon watching him play. He's electric in the open court, showing an impressive ability to get above the rim and finish in traffic. The jump shot isn't bad, and his mid-range game is pretty good. He's got great length, but will likely need to get stronger if he's going to make an early impact at the college level. He's an intriguing prospect for sure. 

Javian Fleming - Canton, MS - 6'9, 230 lbs - C - Like D.J. Stewart, Fleming also seems like a late bloomer. Also currently unranked at 247 Sports, Fleming's recruitment has really taken off, with an avalanche of offers in recent months. Once again, Ben Howland and Mississippi State are the early favorites for his signature. Other schools that have offered include LSU, Cincinnati, TCU, Iowa State and Auburn. Fleming will likely need some time to develop. He'll definitely need to improve physically if he's going to be a good college player. But watching him, it's easy to see why coaches have become intrigued in the young man - he has skills. Good footwork, good hands, he can catch the ball in traffic, can make a mid-range jumper, he's very good at passing the ball, and he's got great ball-handling skills for a guy his size. Definitely a below-the-rim player, but knows how to finish when he catches the ball in the low post. There's a lot of potential. Dare I say that, at times, he reminds me of Erwin Dudley (though he has a long, long, long way to go to be an SEC Player of the Year).

Connor Vanover - Little Rock, AR - 7'2, 210 lbs - C - Make no mistake, Vanover will be a project if he signs with a high-major. Physically, he will likely have a tough time against the level of big men he'll compete against at the high-major level. I would anticipate a redshirt year with a steady relationship with the strength coach forthcoming. But what makes him so intriguing is his length obviously, but also the fact that he can really shoot the ball. 7'2 guys who can shoot the ball like he can don't grow on trees so I can certainly see why the staff may want to take a shot with him. For what it's worth, his brother - also a 7-footer - is a student and marching band member at Alabama.    

Trey Jemison - Birmingham, AL - 6'8, 195 lbs - PF - Jemison is considered one of the top recruits in the state of Alabama for the 2018 class. The opinion must be shared that the 2018 Alabama class is not considered as strong as recent classes. There are no John Petty's or Josh Langford's in the 18 class. In my opinion it's fair to debate if any of the top prospects in the state for the 2018 class are even legit high-major prospects. That said, the Alabama staff have offered Jemison. He's a solid rebounder and defender, but his offensive game is a work in progress. If he commits, Jemison will likely need time to develop before he can be counted on to be a consistent performer. 247 currently ranks Jemison 115th nationally, and 2nd in the state of Alabama. Auburn and Alabama are obvious early favorites. Other schools that have offered include Vanderbilt, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M and Clemson. I didn't find any recent video for Jemison. If anyone knows of some recent video, please share it in the comments.

Diante Wood - Anniston, AL - 6'4, 175 lbs - SG - Currently ranked 198th nationally by 247, and ranked 5th in the state. He has been offered by Bama, and also holds offers from Auburn, Wichita State, Iowa State and UAB. Diante has the potential to raise his profile as a high school senior. He certainly looks the part physically. He's a good athlete who can get above the rim, has a decent jump shot, and appears versatile enough to play up to three spots on the floor. But is he a legit high-major prospect?

Two other guys from the state of Alabama to keep an eye on are Myreon Jones and Isaac Chatman. To my knowledge, Alabama has not offered either yet, but they are certainly on the radar. 247 ranks Jones as the top prospect in the state, with Chatman ranked 3rd. I would imagine both guys will at least receive an offer from Bama in the near future.   

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