Jayhawks sitting on the brink of serious recruiting upswing
Recruiting often goes in cycles, and the cycles seem to be never-ending.
One year, a program can’t miss on its desired targets and gets just about everybody it wants and, occasionally, even a couple of players it didn’t want but lucked into.
A couple of years later, especially among the blue bloods of the college basketball world, that same program finds itself on the outside looking in for the top-tier players, having to sit by and watch while other big time programs and hall of fame coaches restock their rosters with the top talent in the land.
So it goes, on and on, year after year, decade after decade.
Duke has experienced it on both sides. Kentucky has, too. And so have North Carolina, Michigan State and others who are generally regarded as perennial national title contenders and the types of teams that always seem to load up with McDonald’s All-Americans and 5-star standouts.
Kansas clearly belongs in that conversation, as well. And Bill Self’s squad currently sits on the brink of a bounce back.
After missing out on Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, Matt Hurt, Cassius Stanley and a couple of other targets in the past six months, the Jayhawks are poised to fill their remaining available spots in the 2019 class with some serious talent.
They still have to get to the finish line, of course, and landing 44th-ranked forward Tristan Enaruna, who has serious long-term potential to blossom into a star, was a good start to the spring.
But a handful of recruiting analysts appear to believe even bigger things are coming.
One of them is Rivals.com analyst Corey Evans, who, in his most recent piece, “Three-Point Play,” which was posted on Thursday, Evans’ first entry in the three-part blog was titled, “Kansas Slated To Win The Spring.”
And Evans referenced KU’s current standing with four top prospects as the reason for his claim.
Considered by many to be the leader in the hunt for Top 5 guard R.J. Hampton, who just recently reclassified into the 2019 class, KU also is right in the thick of the race for versatile forward Precious Achiuwa (No. 17), 6-foot-5 Arkansas-Little Rock wing Rayjon Tucker, who is regarded by some as the top grad transfer available, and fellow-grad transfer T.J. Holyfield of Stephen F. Austin.
All four players have visited KU recently and, perhaps more importantly, the Jayhawks actually could have scholarships available for all four players, as well. That depends on who stays in the 2019 draft and what happens with Silvio De Sousa.
KU also cracked the final four for Johnny Juzang, another 2020 kid who reclassified into the 2019 class, so, clearly, things are starting to cycle back in a positive direction for Kansas, which endured a few rough months of hearing how the federal investigation had negatively impacted recruiting. Landing any of the players mentioned above — along with signing Enaruna and getting Udoka Azubuike to return — should quiet a lot of that talk.
Holyfield is likely the least likely of the bunch. And even though Achiuwa has been heavily tied to Memphis of late, it’s worth noting that Evans, on Thursday, officially switched his prediction for the 6-foot-9, 215-pound Achiuwa to Kansas.
Achiuwa has been somewhat quiet during his recruitment and is not expected to make a decision for several more weeks.
That, of course, gives all of the programs still vying for Achiuwa’s signature — KU, Memphis and North Carolina lead the list, with Georgia, UConn and possibly St. John’s in the mix, as well — time to sell the strong, high-volume scorer on their school and also gives Evans (and others) time to change his pick from KU to someone else.
Also worth noting is that 247 Sports recruiting guru Evan Daniels recently changed his crystal ball pick on Achiuwa from Memphis to undecided.
Regardless of how that specific battle plays out, Evans’ prediction that KU can win the spring remains strong.
If KU can land Hampton, it would almost certainly vault the class — currently ranked No. 29 with three 4-star signees — into the Top 10. If Tucker, Holyfield and/or Achiuwa also climb on board, you could be looking at a Top 5 class, mere weeks after KU struck out on a few other top targets and had fans in a frenzy about what Self and company would do.
Cycles, folks. They can be good and bad, profitable and excruciating. And the Jayhawks could be on the brink of riding high for a while.