Summer hoops recruiting roundup

UNC, Duke and NC State have all identified their top 2018 and 2019 prospects

Eamon Queeney—North State Journal
North Carolina State University men's basketball head coach Kevin Keatts poses for a photograph at the Dail Basketball Complex in Raleigh

Big recruiting news is made in November, during college basketball’s early signing period, and May, when the top unsigned prospects choose schools after seeing who left for the NBA.The announcements and hat ceremonies are the endpoint of a journey that starts in the summer, at the various shoe camps. That’s where prospects make their names and coaches make sure they’re seen watching the top targets for their program.Nike, UnderArmour and Adidas all sponsor summer leagues, which have been going for more than a month. All three had major events over Memorial Day weekend.With school years just now ending, there’s plenty of summer ball still to play, but here’s an early look at which players fans of the Triangle teams will be monitoring, as decision time looms near a few months from now.Marvin Bagley III: The power forward is the top prospect in the 2018 class and has Duke as one of his final six, along with usual suspects Kentucky, Kansas and UCLA. He’s been one of the top scorers of the summer, but there are also a few red flags. While not a Lavar Ball, Bagley’s father is a bit of a character and heavily involved in his son’s basketball career. The former NC A&T football player is very demonstrative and vocal on the sidelines, even making noise to distract opposing free throw shooters, and he hasn’t been shy about pulling the trigger on high school transfers for his son. Bagley’s AAU team also lost its first dozen summer games and went into the final weekend of the EYBL season before recording its first win, an odd track record of losing for a Duke prospect.Other top Duke targets: Point guards Darius Garland and Tre Jones (brother of former Blue Devil point guard Tyus Jones), small forward Cameron Reddish (who has Duke in his final eight). Top 2019 prospect, small forward R.J. Barrett, may consider reclassifying to the class of 2018.Nazreon Reid: The power forward has UNC in his top 10, and Roy Williams was a frequent spectator at his summer league games. Reid impressed observers and appears to be rapidly rising in the prospect rankings after a strong performance on the shoe tour.Other top Carolina targets: The Heels have a head start to the recruiting cycle, with combo guard Coby White and point guard Rechon Black already committed. White will also enjoy a boost in the rankings after his strong summer play. The Heels have also been watching point guard Devon Dotson, although they’ll have some in-state competition for the Charlotte standout. Carolina would also love to land small forward Zion Williamson, the No. 2 prospect in the 2018 class. Duke is also heavily recruiting the five-star.Carolina is also making inroads in the class of 2019. It’s early, but the Heels lead NC State and others for shooting guard Josh Nickelberry of Oak Hill and lead Duke for Concord small forward Wendell Moore. The Heels and Pack have also been very diligently watching summer games for Fayetteville small forward Joey Baker, who has turned heads in the summer.Nahziah Carter: Hip-hop artist J. Cole was a frequent visitor to PNC Arena last season, watching top NC State freshman Dennis Smith Jr. The Pack could be upgrading their arena star power. Kevin Keatts and his staff have been watching the small forward from upstate NY, as has his famous uncle—Jay Z. Carter initially committed to Dayton but opened things up after Archie Miller left to coach Indiana. Carter also still isn’t sure whether he’ll reclassify to 2017 or remain in the class of 2018. In the meantime, he’s earning a name of his own, including a highlight-film dunk over Bagley.Other top State targets: New head coach Kevin Keatts appears to have targeted Devon Dotson. The Charlotte point guard had attracted attention from former coach Mark Gottfried, but Keatts has been keeping tabs on his summer games. That could boil down to a head-to-head battle against UNC, as could 2019 prospects Baker and Nickelberry and 2018’s Nazreon Reid.Keatts was spotted at Fayetteville power forward Immanuel Bates’ games, and the NC State coach offered 2019 small forward Christian Brown a scholarship recently.