Evans Seven: Programs with a lot at stake as visits wind down
The number of available Rivals150 members dwindles by the day, which means we are that much closer to the Early Signing Period. The last weekend in October is one of the final times this year that we will see some of the nation’s best hit the road for college visits. In this week’s Evans Seven, we look at some of the visits being taken to Alabama, Duke and Tennessee and a few other programs with huge visits on tap.
It's a massive weekend for Alabama, and while the Tide currently sit with a goose egg in the 2020 class, they are hoping to change that with two official visitors. Isaiah Jackson has been their primary frontcourt target in recent months, and he's not too far from making his college decision. The Tide will have the last chance to sway the elite defender. Kentucky has received most of the talk lately, but Alabama is a program that has remained heavily in contention throughout. Syracuse is also involved and a signing is likely to be made next month, with the Tide and UK having the best chance.
Keon Ambrose-Hylton will join Jackson for his final official visit. Keep an eye on Arkansas with the Canadian talent. The Tide do have some momentum, but so do Dayton and NC State. Deebo Coleman, a four-star junior, will continue his unofficial visit trek by heading to the SEC program on Saturday.
It is about that time for Mark Williams to make his big decision. The 7-footer is down to a final three, and he has already taken official visits to Michigan and UCLA. This weekend, he will take his last official visit before committing on Nov. 1, and his trip to Duke could complete the Blue Devils’ class this fall.
Williams is no stranger to the school where his sister, Elizabeth Williams, was once a standout for the women’s program. Since the Duke offer was given, the Blue Devils have been the perceived favorite and nothing has changed since then. The Wolverines and Bruins have Williams thinking, and if Hunter Dickinson were to commit to Duke before Williams makes his decision, it could skew his college path. Coach K’s bunch has a lot going for it and with Williams' former travel teammate, Henry Coleman, already a Duke commit, Williams might be the cherry on top of another top-two class in Durham.
Just a month ago, the thought was that Garcia would wait until the spring to sign. Instead, he sped up his commitment timeline and plans to sign next month. He's already taken official visits to Marquette, Memphis and Minnesota, and his trip to Bloomington will likely be his final visit before he decides.
Memphis has not laid off in its pursuit and the hometown Gophers have a unique sell, but Marquette and the Hoosiers remain in the best position. Indiana has its fair share of wing talent already in tow, but if Garcia committed he would be the face of its 2020 class, and he would immediately impact the program the day that he steps foot on campus.
LSU is still figuring out a way to fill its point guard needs if Javonte Smart were to leave for the NBA after this season. With the Auburn Tigers' football team rolling into Death Valley for what should be a raucous weekend in Baton Rouge, Will Wade will have a chance to use such an atmosphere to enhance his standing with Jalen Terry. Terry, a top 50 senior, recently backed off of his nearly yearlong commitment to Michigan State,. He will be taking his first official visit since making that decision. The Spartans remain in the picture, but the Tigers will also have to beat out programs such as DePaul, Iowa State, Louisville, Oregon and Pitt.
Joining Terry will be Jerrell Colbert, who will be taking his second official visit of the fall. The top 25 junior has already visited Oklahoma, but LSU is in a good spot. An early commitment is not likely, but the Tigers will be a strong suitor when a decision is made.
Nimari Burnett will head to Oregon to see what the Ducks have cooking as he makes his final official visit before making a decision. He is down to a final four that consists of Alabama, Michigan, Texas Tech and Oregon, and each of his finalists has been perceived as the favorite at one point in time.
Of the four, Alabama has garnered the most talk throughout, but Oregon has come on strong lately, and its need for a perimeter weapon can't be understated. Every year, Dana Altman enrolls a five-star prospect. He is sitting without such a commitment this fall, but it is not a matter of if that will happen, but with whom. The Ducks are also heavily in the mix for Burnett's travel and school teammate, Jalen Green, but they also just missed on Scottie Barnes. Could their response be the commitment of the ultra-versatile Burnett?
A signing will likely be made in the spring, with Burnett evaluating the early portion of the college season before making his commitment.
The Cardinal have hosted some of the top talent from the 2021 class this fall, and they will continue that trend this weekend. Two four-star juniors will head to Palo Alto, and each could be much closer to their college decisions compared to other highly touted members in their class. Jackson Grant will be on campus, and a commitment could be made by the springtime. Washington is the team to beat here, but Wisconsin, a program to which he spent his first official visit, and Oklahoma, which he will visit next month, are also in the mix.
Joining Grant will be Kowacie Reeves, who visited Florida earlier this month. His trip to Gainesville was his third in the past year, and the Gators are in a great spot for his commitment. Stanford is hoping to change the Georgia native's mind, as are a number of regional ACC and SEC powers.
They will look ahead to the future classes this weekend as two of the elite from the junior ranks heading to Knoxville. Pacific Northwest product Paolo Banchero has already taken official visits to Duke, Kentucky and North Carolina this fall, and will take his final visit this weekend. The Vols are playing catch-up, but getting him onto campus reflects their stature in today’s game.
Kennedy Chandler will join Banchero, but this will be his first official visit taken. One of the top lead guards in the 2021 class, the recruitment of Chandler is just taking off and while the Vols would have to defeat the nation’s best for him, Rick Barnes’ background in developing point guards could factor into Chandler’s decision.