The recently finished July live recruiting period is known for individuality. It’s about what college coaches are watching which players, who stood out because of a big performance, a dunk that went viral.
Winning, it seems, comes secondary. But one team, the New York City-based Rens, believes its 17-and-under team succeeded by valuing victories over personal accolades, and as a result helped many of its players’ recruiting as a result.
Despite the absence of four-star center Kofi Cockburn of Christ the King and skilled wing Malik Martin of Staten Island’s Curtis High School because of injury, the group reached the prestigious Fab 48 final in Las Vegas to close the month, defeating Team Rio and five-star New Jersey guards Scottie Lewis and Bryan Antoine in the quarterfinals.
“The biggest takeaways, the best feedback I got, was in a week wherein Vegas everybody’s fatigued, everybody’s tired, you got the [LaVar Ball-coached] Big Baller Brand dominating the news cycle, here you have a team that played like a team, took some bumps in the road, but stayed together and made the decision among themselves that we’re going to play this to win, we’re not going to treat this like a showcase,” said Chris Alesi, the team’s coach. “It was their last chance to play in front of college coaches, and they took advantage of it. The rewards from what they did in Vegas, they’re going to be seen long-term with these kids and their recruiting.”
After going 0-3 in their super pool — every team in that group reaches the playoffs — the Rens won four straight games, before falling to Team Thad in the title game. They did it without their one true big man, Cockburn, relying on defense, sharing the ball, and tenacity for a team that had failed to qualify for Peach Jam after going 8-8 in the qualifying known as the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League.
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Sure, the team did include stars, players like four-star Hudson Catholic guard Luther Muhammad, a major St. John’s recruit, and highly ranked Iona Prep rising junior guard Bryce Wills. But the performance has helped at least a few members of the program in their recruitment, such as Sloan Seymour, Tyler Bourne, Alan Griffin and Khalid Moore, giving them more options because they were seen by more coaches.
Most of all, they proved themselves against top competition. Alesi, who is no longer with the Rens, believes Seymour, Griffin and Moore helped themselves the most in the tournament, because their roles expanded, and they stepped up to the challenge.
“It was all about winning,” said Griffin, who is being recruited by the likes of St. John’s, UMass, Seton Hall and St. Louis, among others. “More coaches come to see you the more you win. They always want to see the people who win. We felt like if we did that, we all would get an opportunity in front of the coaches.”
Rutgers picked up a verbal commitment Friday from rising senior guard Ron Harper Jr. of Don Bosco Prep (N.J.). The son of the former NBA guard by the same name, the 6-foot-6 Harper picked coach Steve Pikiell’s program over offers from Nebraska and several mid-major programs. He is the fourth member of the Scarlet Knights’ highly ranked 2018 recruiting class, joining four-star guard Montez Mathis, Mac McLung and Mamadou Doucoure.
Marvin Bagley III, one of the premier prospects in the country regardless of class, will announce his decision Monday night on ESPN’s “SportsCenter.” The multi-talented 6-10 forward is considering reclassifying into the 2018 class, making him eligible for this coming season were he to meet the NCAA’s qualifying standards. He has taken recent visits to Duke, UCLA and USC.
Queens guard Hassan Diarra, a member of the Class of 2020, added scholarship offers from St. Bonaventure and Stony Brook over the past week.
New Jersey wing Samba Diallo cut his list to five: Hofstra, St. Bonaventure, VCU, UMass and St. Joseph’s.