Well, technically it was July yesterday, but it's still July today. And there's no time for basketball recruiting junkies (which you have probably become if you're still around by now) quite like July. The two ten-day periods in the month, the first starting on the 6th, are the only times NCAA coaches can watch players on the AAU circuit. As such, it's a pretty jam-packed 20 days, stuffed with tournaments, giving coaches a chance to see how recruits have progressed. It's also a great time for coaches to make a good impression on recruits - following them around to watch them play is a pretty good way to indicate their interest.
But before we get more into that, let's take a quick moment to run through a few ranking updates. Most (though not all) services will update their rankings right before and after July, considering plenty of rankings are set to change during the month. Upstart 247Sports, which is essentially PrepStars, was the first to put out their rankings, with Rivals next. Rankings for Maryland targets are below:
Mitch McGary (R: #5, 247: #6)
Robert Carter (R: #16, 247: #22)
Danuel House (R: #26, 247: #44)
Shaquille Cleare (R: #29, 247: #21)
Amile Jefferson (R: #33, 247: #24)
Elijah Macon (R: #49, 247: #64)
Jerami Grant (R: #61, 247: #51)
Twymond Howard (R: #64, 247: #95)
Prince Ibeh (R: #101, 247: NR)
Arnaud Adala Moto (R: #128, 247: #67)
Jake Layman (R: #150, 247: #96)
Seth Allen wasn't in the rankings again; nor was Christian Sanders or any of the fringe targets that emerged in spring like Isaiah Zierden or Jodan Price.
Scout or ESPN are yet to put out updated rankings, but I'm guessing it's coming. Scout, however, did put out 2013 rankings, and the news there is good. List of targets below:
Andrew Harrison: #7
Aaron Harrison: #12
Kennedy Meeks: #15
Nate Britt: #16
BeeJay Anya: #24
Derrick Griffin #39
Aquille Carr: #59
With only a couple of schollies available for 2012, it looks like the staff is targeting high-level targets, like the Harrisons, Meeks, Britt, etc. As Charlotte NC Terp mentioned, being in good position with a quarter of the top 16 targets in the country is pretty crazy.
Now, in regards to July, there's a ton of stuff to watch for, as CBS Sports and ESPN would like to remind us. For me, the biggest thing to keep an eye on is the status of Shaquille Cleare, who's been rumored to be a Maryland lean for months now. Jeff Borzello talked to Cleare recently, and this is what Cleare said about it:
Many have linked Cleare with Maryland, which he has stated in the past is his favorite. Now, though, he is open to other schools. "They're one of my favorites, at the same level as some others," Cleare said. "I like all the schools."
It's not a great sign, but I find it hard to believe that he essentially went from "I'm about to commit" to "I have no leaders" with no visible change. Regardless, maybe we should start to approach that situation with a tad more caution.
For the record, Borzello also had a talk with Elijah Macon in that same post, the Ohio combo forward who Maryland started to recruit recently, and he said he wants to visit College Park this summer.
There are two other big things to watch for in July besides commitments, I suppose: new targets, and targets that raise their stock significantly.
July tends to yield at least one of both. Last year, Johnny O'Bryant came out of nowhere (well, Maryland came out of nowhere for O'Bryant, rather) and the Terps were one of his favorites before he ended up at LSU. Perhaps this year it'll be Ricky Ledo, or Chicken Knowles, or someone who decommits, or someone who we don't really know at all yet. Unlike the past few years, Maryland isn't relying on a big name to emerge, because they've cast a relatively wide net already, but I'm still expecting somebody.
As for the latter: Maryland's tracking a lot of below-the-radar guys, like Isaiah Zierden, Jodan Price, Jake Layman, and kind-of Christian Sanders (he has offers, but not notoriety). If one of them comes out and impresses on the summer circuit, they raise themselves from fringe prospects to having a committable offer.
And, of course, you should be watching out for the recruitment of all the current targets. Mitch McGary, Amile Jefferson, Arnaud Moto, and everyone else will all be moving closer to commitments, and how closely coaches follow them on the trail may influence their decisions. Interviews with players will be plentiful, so be prepared to learn a lot.