Labor Day Weekend Recruiting Roundup

By Kevin Sweeney

It’s officially September, which also means it’s official visit season for college basketball recruits. This past weekend saw numerous mid-major programs host some of their top targets for the 2018 class for visits, and many landed commitments from talented prospects. Here’s a look at some of the biggest recruiting developments at the mid-major level this past weekend.

  • In a class many consider to be thin at the point guard position, Florida Gulf Coast and Bucknell each made huge splashes by landing commitments from floor generals this weekend. The Eagles landed 3-star Zach Scott, an athletic 6-4 point guard from Fort Lauderdale who held offers from Virginia Tech, Pittsburgh, Wichita State, and others. With star floor general Brandon Goodwin graduating after this season, landing his heir apparent in Scott is an extremely important pickup for Joe Dooley. Bucknell captured the commitment of 6-4 combo guard Andrew Funk of Warminster, PA, a high-level shooter who excelled this summer for the Jersey Shore Warriors. As his high school coach told Josh Verlin of City of Basketball Love, Funk is “Hard-nosed, aggressive, plays downhill, scoring mentality, plays well with other teammates, can do a lot of things and he can score a lot of different ways.” He also considered Delaware and Penn.
  • It’s always good to get the first official visit for one of your top targets, and Valparaiso showed exactly why that’s the case this weekend when they picked up Javon Freeman-Liberty, a Chicago native, following his official visit to campus. A 3-star shooting guard who averaged over 12 points per game on the Nike EYBL circuit for MeanStreets, Freeman-Liberty received strong interest from high-major programs and had planned official visits for Akron and Florida Gulf Coast. These are the type of prospects that Matt Lottich’s staff will have to continue to land if it hopes to enjoy the same success it had in the Horizon League moving up to the Missouri Valley. Here are some highlights of Freeman-Liberty from InTheGymHoops 2.0 on YouTube:

  • It was a critical weekend for Dave Paulsen’s George Mason program, as the Patriots hosted a pair of 2018 targets in New Jersey big man Jared Kimbrough and Virginia shooting guard Jordan Miller. Miller committed to the Patriots on Saturday morning, giving GMU their first commitment for the 2018 class. The lefty Miller can really score the ball, averaging over 22 points per game in high school this past season, and will be a tough guy to defend as he further develops his right hand. As Corey Evans of Rivals put it: “Tremendous pickup. Versatile and skilled playmaker with size”. Now, the focus turns to landing Kimbrough, a much-needed big man for this class, and highly-touted guard Brendan Adams, who visited unofficially last month.
  • Rob Ehsan’s staff at UAB has picked up right where it left off with its successes on the recruiting trail for the 2017 class in 2018, landing a commitment from Chicago big man Tamell Pearson this weekend. Pearson, who also considered Oklahoma State, Washington State, Murray State, and others, was an extremely important recruit for the Blazers given that frontcourt cogs Chris Cokley and William Lee will graduate after this season. Now, with Pearson, fellow 2018 commit Juda Akabueze and freshman Makhtar Gueye all in tow, the future in the frontcourt looks as bright as ever in Birmingham.
  • Albany continues to assemble an excellent mid-major class for 2018 with a commitment Sunday night from Malachi De Sousa of South Kent School in Connecticut. Ranked 20th in the New England Recruiting Report rankings for the 2018 class, De Sousa is a major early pick-up for Will Brown, who has also earned a commitment from 6-4 2018 guard Antonio Rizzuto this summer. The versatile wing-forward is a perfect fit for Brown’s system, and could wind up being one of the biggest steals of the early period.

  • Georgia State debuted their new football stadium Thursday night, but it was also a big weekend for their basketball program on the recruiting front. A trio of talented prospected visited campus: 3-star wings Kevin Easley and KJ Buffen as well as 4-star guard Nelson Phillips. Landing any of these prospects would be huge for Ron Hunter, and could catapult them to the top of the Sun Belt for years to come. Buffen went to high school and is close friends with current GSU guard D’Marcus Simonds, so that is certainly an advantage for the Panthers on that front.
  • New Mexico made the top 3 for athletic Illinois big man George Conditt, who cut his list Monday to the Lobos, Iowa State, and Illinois. New Mexico will get his final official visit on September 29th. He’d be an excellent fit for Paul Weir’s new system at UNM.
  •  Davidson hosted Riley Battin for an official visit this weekend. Battin, a 3-star forward from California who is also considering Utah, Ohio State, and Vanderbilt. “I think I would fit very well in their system. Their offense runs through a versatile point forward which is where I seem myself playing at the next level.” Battin told D1Vision following the visit.
  • Texas point guard PJ Byrd took an official visit to Boise State this weekend after visiting VCU on August 25th. He’s set to announce his decision on September 6th, per ZAGSBLOG.

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