While some prospects remain cautious about being recruited by schools tied to the FBI’s investigation of college basketball, Kansas’ lone 2019 commit, Markese Jacobs, remains unworried about his future school.
Speaking at the Peach Invitational, a tournament on the summer circuit that runs alongside Nike’s Peach Jam here, Jacobs said the Jayhawks coaching staff hasn’t given him reason to worry.
“I haven’t heard anything,” he told The Star. “I’m not worried. I don’t get into all of that.”
Jacobs, a 5-foot-11 point guard, showcased his vertical leaping ability on Thursday in a win over UPlay Canada, as he nearly pulled off a couple of alley-oop dunks that most players his size could only dream of attempting.
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Playing his final season with Mac Irvin Fire, one of the EYBL’s premier programs, Jacobs said his last grassroots season hasn’t gone the way he’s wanted, as his team did not qualify for the more-prestigious Peach Jam.
“I didn’t really do what I wanted to do,” Jacobs said. “My whole goal is to finish July strong.”
In April, Jacobs said he was supposed to have an in-home visit with Jayhawks head coach Bill Self and his staff, but that hasn’t yet happened during a busy summer for Self, who recently coached the under-18 USA national team in the FIBA Americas Championship.
Jacobs, who wants to take an official visit to Kansas for Late Night in the Phog, has still been in constant contact with the KU staff. Assistant coach Jerrance Howard was in attendance for his game Thursday against UPlay Canada.
As the lone current pledge in the Jayhawks’ 2019 class, Jacobs has been recruiting other players he’d like to play with who are on the program’s radar.
One of them is Malik Hall, the star player for Sunrise Christian Academy in Wichita and a member of the Kansas City-based MoKan Elite grassroots program.
“I just like the way he plays,” Jacobs said of Hall. “He’s a dog. He can score it and he plays defense.”
Hall had a breakout spring, as he’s piled up offers from Villanova, Texas, Florida, KU and others. He said that he hears from Kansas “every once and a while,” but he knows the program well given its proximity to his school.
“It’s a legendary program,” Hall said. “They’ve done a lot of great things at that school.”
Hall, who also is considering Mizzou, plans to cut down his list of schools in either August or September.
Speaking of Self’s USA experience …
Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, a 6-foot-9 forward, said he recently met a new Bill Self.
Robinson-Earl, the son of former Jayhawk Lester Earl, was part of the USA U18 team that Self coached in the 2018 FIBA Americas Championship, and he said he liked seeing Self “as a coach instead of just a recruiter. So you can see his real self, instead of his recruiter self.”
Still, Robinson-Earl — who recently transferred from Bishop Miege to IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. — said he is not a lock to go to Kansas, despite his dad’s connection to the school and his Kansas City roots.
“I would say a lot of people didn’t recruit me because they think I’m a lock for Kansas, but I always just tell them, you can’t get something if you don’t go after it,” Robinson-Earl told The Star earlier this week at the Under Armour challenge tournament in Emerson, Ga. “I’m open to everybody. I’m not locked in. I’m just open-minded about everything.”
Robinson-Earl, Rivals’ ninth-ranked player in the Class of 2019, said he plans to narrow down his list of schools at the end of this summer. He will set up official visits after that. He is not sure whether he will sign early with a program.
After time in Italy, Mannion reclassifies
One of the biggest prospects in the 2020 class is about to become a member of the 2019 class.
Nico Mannion, a five-star recruit and Arizona native, told The Star on Wednesday at the Under Armour Challenge that he plans to reclassify and finish high school a year early. Mannion repeated the eighth grade, so he’s really just rejoining his original graduating class.
Playing alongside fellow Kansas target Josh Green for West Coast Elite on the Under Armour circuit, Mannion spent a month this summer training with the Italian senior national team. He’s eligible to play for the country because of his mother’s heritage.
“Everyone over there is a pro,” he said. “So I was treated like a pro for a month.”
Mannion said the time change in Italy meant it was 7 a.m. local time when he started hearing from college coaches on June 15 as a member of the 2020 class. That marked the first time college coaches were able to reach out to 2020 recruits.
Arizona, USC, Marquette, Duke and Kansas were among the first to reach out to him and are the programs coming after him the hardest.
Mannion has mostly interacted with the Jayhawks’ assistant coaches, though. Between Self’s coaching duties with the USA under-18 team and Mannion’s time in Italy, the prospect said he has had a tough time getting in touch with KU’s head coach.
“I’ve heard from them a couple times,” Mannion said of Self and his staff. “Coach Self, my dad talked to him a couple of times. We talked a couple of times. His message (was) they play two guards at the same time. His example was (Devonté) Graham and (Frank) Mason two years ago. He gives them a lot of freedom.”
Mannion’s current plan is to cut his list to five or six schools by the end of the month and start taking official visits shortly thereafter. He has no date in mind yet for a decision.
Prospect seeks stable situation
A few months ago, Class of 2019 guard Josh Green had no clue who was recruiting him, despite being one of the top 10 players in the country in most recruiting rankings.
The Australia native, who attends IMG Academy, was having schools go through his parents. They live in Arizona, and Green wasn’t able to get a full picture of his situation until this past month, when he sat down with his parents during a recent visit home and discussed his recruitment.
Green said Wednesday that Kansas, Villanova, Arizona, North Carolina, Kentucky, USC and UCLA are some of the schools recruiting him. North Carolina is still evaluating whether to offer him a scholarship, and he plans to cut his list to eight or 10 schools at the end of the month. Kansas has already offered Green a scholarship.
Job security is going to be a factor when it comes to picking a school.
“If I know a coach is going to stay there for a long time,” he said. “If I have the opportunity to come in and make an immediate impact. Great fit and structure.”
Green said KU coaches are regulars at his games and have reached out “frequently.” He’s unsure if he will take unofficial visits after cutting his list or go right into official visits.
Potential Lawson trio
Could three Lawson brothers join forces at KU and play on the same team for the first time in their lives?
“It would be lovely if they stay,” Class of 2019 forward Chandler Lawson said of his two older brothers, Dedric and K.J., transfers from Memphis who will debut for the Jayhawks this coming season. “If they have a good year (next season), I hope they go (to the NBA). But if they don’t, I pray that I’ll play with my brothers.”
Chandler Lawson attends Memphis East High School, where he played under coach Penny Hardaway before Hardaway, a former NBA star, took his first college head coaching job at Memphis.
Hardaway’s Memphis program has offered Chandler Lawson a scholarship, but Chandler said Georgia Tech, Kansas, Florida, Illinois and Mississippi are the schools that have recently been recruiting him the most.
“I’m very interested in KU,” the 6-foot-8, 200-pound Lawson said at Peach Jam. “They’ve been talking to my dad a lot. I really don’t talk to the colleges. Everything just goes through my dad, my parents. But I’ve been getting a lot of love from KU.”
Even if Chandler, Rivals’ 86th-ranked Class of 2019 prospect, doesn’t spend much time interacting directly with the Jayhawks coaches, he does learn about the KU program through his brothers, who he said tell him “everything” about Kansas, including how Self is “hard on you like every other coach, but he expects nothing but the best from you.”
Lawson told The Star he does not have a timeline set for his recruitment, and he does not intend to announced a trimmed list of schools before committing to a team.
Top 2020 player likes Self’s style
R.J. Hampton, a Dallas-area point guard, said KU is one of three schools he’s receiving the most interest from. Texas and Memphis are the others.
“I talk to Kansas almost every day,” said Hampton, who is the No. 4 player in the Class of 2020 according to Rivals. “They’re on me pretty hard. Coach (Jerrance) Howard, Coach Rob (Norm Roberts) and Coach (Bill) Self, too.”
Hampton — who also holds scholarship offers from Duke, USC and UCLA, among others — likes how often he hears from Self in particular. The KU head coach tells the 6-foot-4 Hampton that the Jayhawks could space the floor with him at point guard, and Self trusts Hampton can make plays.
“I like the way Coach Self is very involved,” Hampton told The Star at the Under Armour Challenge. “Some head coaches will offer you, and then they won’t talk to you. They just leave it to their assistants. But he’s very involved.”
Hampton said he has recently begun talking to North Carolina and Kentucky, but neither program has offered him a scholarship yet.
KU targeting another top 2020 player
Jaden Springer, a consensus five-star recruit and top-20 player in the 2020 class, said he’s been hearing from Kansas, along with Kentucky, Texas, Vanderbilt, Ohio State, Cal and Maryland.
A North Carolina resident, Springer is an elite passer who can get to the basket at will. He said that colleges are recruiting him at both guard positions, and he frequently talks to the Jayhawks’ coaching staff.
“They’ve got a great program out there,” Springer said of Kansas. “They’ve got a great coach. They’re a winning team. They’re used to winning.”
Springer currently has no visits planned and is unsure of his next step in the recruiting process.