College coaches weren’t exactly sitting around all of August, but they were just about as sedentary as can be on the recruiting trail. Following the July live period, Aug. 1 through Sept. 8 was a quiet period on the recruiting calendar, as prospects were able to take visits to campuses but coaches weren’t able to visit or watch prospects. That changed Sept. 9, when the recruiting period began. It will last until March 28, with Nov. 6-9 and Dec. 24-26 the lone exceptions.
The recruiting period means the start of in-home visits and high school trips for college coaches. Seeing prospects in the first few days of the period doesn’t necessarily mean anything, but one can glean some information from where head coaches are going and which prospects are being seen right away by certain staffs. If a program goes the first few weeks without making an effort to see a certain prospect, it’s safe to say he isn't a priority -- or even on the board.
It’s only several days old, but there are some storylines emerging from the beginning of the recruiting period.
No visits for No. 1 prospect R.J. Barrett
One might expect the No. 1 prospect in the country to have coaches knocking down his door at all hours of the day, but that’s not the case with Barrett. The Canada native, who plays at Montverde Academy (Florida), is in the middle of an official visit stretch, having gone to Kentucky earlier this month and, starting this weekend, visiting Duke, Arizona, Oregon and Michigan in a three-week span. But in-home or campus visits? None, according to his AAU coach. “No reason,” Dwayne Washington said. “Just focusing on the year ahead. And timing -- very packed schedule.”
No. 2 prospect Zion Williamson welcoming coaches
It’s not the same for Williamson, who has several coaches coming through this week. Kansas was expected to see him Tuesday night, with North Carolina, UCLA and Kentucky all scheduled for Wednesday. South Carolina is expected on Thursday. Williamson scheduled official visits to UCLA and Duke in October.
Where is John Calipari?
Kentucky’s head coach annually front-loads his visit schedule, seeing several top targets in the opening few days of the recruiting period. He started his week with a trip to see five-star guard Quentin Grimes (No. 13) on Sunday and Keldon Johnson (No. 7) on Monday. He then headed to New England to see Simi Shittu (No. 6) at Vermont Academy (Vermont) on Tuesday morning. Calipari will also see Williamson on Wednesday and is reportedly expected to go to California for Bol Bol this weekend. On Tuesday, Kentucky assistant Joel Justus met with five-star point guard Immanuel Quickley (No. 12), who takes his official visit to Lexington this weekend. The Wildcats are widely considered the favorites for Quickley.
Vanderbilt not letting up for five-star point guard -- or other elite targets
Darius Garland (No. 11) has been the top target for Bryce Drew and Vanderbilt for most of the 2018 class, and despite Duke, Indiana, Kansas, UCLA and Kentucky also being on his final list, the Commodores aren’t going down without a fight. They had an in-home visit with Garland on the first day of the recruiting period, the latest in their quest to keep the Nashville, Tennessee, resident at home. Vanderbilt also went to see Romeo Langford (No. 5), and Drew was among the head coaches at the Vermont Academy workout for Shittu.
Head coaches turn out for Keldon Johnson
Johnson (No. 7) has been among the top names on Texas' and Maryland’s recruiting boards for several months, and NC State and Kentucky have made the five-star small forward a priority over the past month. All four schools made their presence felt at Oak Hill Academy (Virginia) on Monday, with Calipari, Texas' Shaka Smart, Maryland's Mark Turgeon and NC State's Kevin Keatts all making the trip. Johnson has already visited Texas and NC State officially, and he is expected to visit Kentucky and Maryland in the next couple of weeks.