NCB On The Trail: July 2013 preview

10 storylines to watch in July 

July, 1, 2013
In college basketball, legacies are made in March and championships are won in April, but the foundations for both are built in July.

July is the most important month of the year in basketball recruiting. Sure, there’s an early signing period in the fall and a late signing period in the spring when pen is put to paper and commitments become official. But the groundwork for most of those signings is laid in July, when a trio of live evaluation periods (July 10-14, July 17-21 and July 24-28 for 2013) and dozens of elite events have prospects and college coaches criss-crossing the country in a crazy month of hoops.

With that in mind, here are the top 10 things you need know this July on the basketball recruiting trail.

1. July is here -- and why you should care

July is a weird month. For those involved in the fraternity that is college basketball recruiting, the players, coaches and media kiss their families goodbye and set forth to all corners of the country to either demonstrate their talents or search for the next wave of college prospects. Think of July like you would the first three days of a golf major. It’s the time when teams and players alike position themselves for a stretch run in the fall that culminates with official visits and official signings.

Simply put, July sets the table for seasons to come in college hoops. Recruiters will lock in on the priority targets for their teams, the players who will become future favorites of their fan bases. In some cases, the head coach will watch every single game of a handful of the most important prospects on his wish list. Simultaneously, those same players will scan the gym, intently looking to see which coaches are watching them. It’s a delicate dance orchestrated with a basketball game in the backdrop.

It sounds fun, but the reality is that the futures of programs and individual players are tied to the rigors of July. Prospects don’t arrive on campuses without hard work by coaching staffs, and coaching staffs don’t get the best players unless they can set their final priorities.
There is a saying among coaches that goes like this, "October to April is when we become a team, the rest is when you become a player."

July is the time of year when elite players step it up a notch and separate themselves from their peers. During the month, college coaches head out to evaluate prospects in full and often make their decisions on which recruits they want or don't want based on a player’s improvement, performance and production.

The players who play the game to prove what they can do get lost in the crowd, while the prospects who focus on improving and winning have the best chance of rising up in the ESPN 100 rankings and furthering their recruiting stock.

Here’s a list of currently ranked prospects whose stock could see a rise this month based on what we have already seen from them and what we project will happen.

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The busy July in basketball recruiting isn’t just about the players -- it’s about the college coaches, too. Specifically, with three open evaluation periods (July 10-14, July 17-21 and July 24-28) and more than a dozen major events throughout the country, it’s about where those coaches are and which prospects they are watching.

Since the whereabouts of a coach in July can be a major indicator of his recruiting priorities, here’s a look at five head coaches -- plus a bonus recruiting rivalry -- whose travel plans the college basketball world will be glued to this month.

[+] EnlargeMike Krzyzewski
Jamie Rhodes/USA TODAY SportsWith the potential to lose as many as six players next offseason, the 2014 class is an important one for Duke and Coach K.
1. Mike Krzyzewski (Duke)
Coach K isn’t retiring from Team USA after all, so that means he’ll again have limited time to cover the recruiting period. The difference this year, however, is that the 2014 class is one of the most important for Duke in recent memory, as the Blue Devils could possibly be looking at as many as six scholarships to fill after the coming season (depending on the potential for Jabari Parker, Rodney Hood and Rasheed Sulaimon to leave early for the NBA draft). That makes the days Coach K does have to recruit especially valuable, which means we’ll be able to tell quite a bit about Duke’s priorities based on the prospects he’s following. ESPN 100 sharpshooter Grayson Allen is already on board and the Blue Devils would like to sign three prospects in November’s early signing period, but they’ll need a strong showing from the big boss to make that happen.

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Nine events to watch in July 

July, 1, 2013
July is a key month in recruiting as a number of high-profile events give coaches an up-close look at potential targets. Elite recruits will want to put forth their best effort to enhance their chances at garnering offers from college’s elite, while under-the-radar prospects can use the extra exposure to generate new buzz.

Let’s take a look at the best hoops events July has to offer.

[+] EnlargeKevon Looney
Courtesy of NikeBasketball.comKevon Looney and other top recruits have used July events like the LeBron James Skills Academy to improve their recruiting stock.
LeBron James Skills Academy
July 5-9
Where: Las Vegas
Why it’s important: This Nike event allows 80 of the nation’s top high school prospects an opportunity to display their talent in front of media and scouts from every NBA team.

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