Recruiting mailbag: Which schools and sports will the recruiting dead period hurt most?
Welcome, once again, to the recruiting mailbag.
As always, feel free to send me questions over Twitter or to email@example.com. I know I do the call-out for questions on Twitter on Mondays, but I'm happy to take questions any other day of the week, too.
Let's get to this week's answers:
Does the NCAA ban on visits hurt big schools or small schools more? Hurt football recruiting or basketball recruiting more? — @iowafanwilliams
In case you missed it, the NCAA has extended its recruiting dead period through the end of September because of the COVID-19 pandemic. That means no college basketball or football coach has seen a prospect in person since early March.
Prospects can't take official visits to schools during the dead period. They can pay for their own trip to look at the campus, but they can't interact with anybody involved with the football or basketball team.
At face value, this environment will hurt small schools more because they aren't as visible from a national perspective. In other words, prospects don't need to visit Duke to know what its program is all about.
But, even more so than school size, the school's location is mattering more than ever during the dead period. Because official visits don't exist, you're seeing more and more prospects commit to places closer to home — where they can be close to family during the pandemic and, more importantly, where they can join a program they've already visited multiple times.
We saw it with Clear Creek-Amana defensive end T.J. Bollers. He wound up committing to Wisconsin, but he was very interested in Alabama, Cal, Penn State and several other out-of-state programs he would have wanted to officially visit in normal years. We're seeing it with Lewis Central tight end Thomas Fidone, who will announce his college decision Aug. 26. Nebraska and LSU are thought to be the front-runners and, now that Fidone won't be able to visit LSU, Nebraska, where he has already visited countless times, is considered the heavy favorite.
In basketball, we saw it with Utah transfer Both Gach, a Minnesota native who chose to transfer to the Gophers despite interest from programs across the country. Tyler Harris transferred from Memphis to Iowa State in large part because he'd already visited Ames when the Cyclones recruited him out of high school and he had established strong relationships with the staff.
In terms of evaluation, senior football prospects may not get the same exposure they would during a normal year. Coaches often want to scout players into their senior years before deciding whether to offer. Now, that evaluation process is more difficult.
The same can be said for basketball. The live recruiting periods in April and July are vital for evaluation and exposure. The COVID-19 pandemic kept Division I coaches from attending those events this year. Staffs are trying to evaluate players on live streams, but nothing compares to actually watching in person. I've had multiple D-I assistant coaches tell me the 2021 class will be the most poorly evaluated class in a long time, simply because coaches can't get out to see these guys.
In terms of decision-making, the dead period probably has a more negative effect on football. Most prospects prefer to make their decisions before their senior seasons, so you often see football prospects choose by the late summer. Basketball prospects have a bit more time, as their seasons don't start until winter.
Predictions on the 2021 Drake MBB recruiting class? — @drakedawgs
It's the worst-kept secret in the history of forever who Drake's No. 1 2021 target is: Waukee wing Tucker DeVries, who would have plenty more offers if he weren't the son of Bulldogs head coach Darian DeVries.
Schools are afraid to recruit someone they think will wind up playing for his dad.
But that didn't stop Florida from offering a couple weeks ago. We'll see how heavily the Gators factor into DeVries' recruitment, but their offer proves what everyone in Iowa has known for quite some time: This 6-foot-6 wing is a high-major talent.
For now, it still feels like his recruitment will come down to Drake and Creighton.
If I had to predict today, I'd say DeVries plays for his dad at Drake. Don't ask why. Just a gut feeling. DeVries would be an instant front-runner for newcomer of the year and he'd be a multi-year contender for the Valley's player of the year award.
Love to hear more about Cyclones' newest Wisconsin phenom named Tyrese! — @ted_rood
Iowa State basketball got a great start to its 2021 class by landing four-star Milwaukee point guard Tyrese Hunter back on Aug. 4. The 6-1 prospect is a consensus four-star talent. 247Sports ranks him No. 113 in the 2021 class, and Rivals has him at No. 90.
He's known as a lightning-quick playmaker whose ceiling will only rise as his shot-making ability continues to match his athleticism.
It's not always easy to get college coaches to agree on something. But, to a man, every college coach I talked with after Hunter picked the Cyclones had great things to say.
Here's a sampling:
High-major assistant coach: "Productive, energetic, playmaking guard. Scores and creates."
High-major assistant coach: "Playmaker."
High-major assistant coach: "Winner! Tough as nails."
High-major assistant coach: "He is a worker, plays with an edge to him. Very good athlete, explosive in transition and has the ability to play-make and score. Can play the 1 and 2. He’s highly competitive."
Mid-major assistant coach: "Really good. I love him. ... Athletic as hell. Plays hard and really mature kid. Has an extra gear to him. Just needs to keep refining his shot consistency."
Mid-major assistant coach: "Crafty and high basketball IQ."
Is (Jake Rubley) still considering Iowa? — @vanillamaize
Some big Iowa high school football news: Jake Rubley, a four-star quarterback who played for the past three years at Highlands Ranch in the Denver suburbs, is officially enrolled at West Des Moines Valley, and all signs point to him being eligible this fall.
Rubley, who 247Sports considers the 12th-best pro-style quarterback prospect in 2021, has plenty of Iowa ties. His father is T.J. Rubley, the Davenport West legend who went on to play for Tulsa and in the NFL. His uncles also starred in Davenport and went on to play collegiately, with his uncle Trent going to Iowa State.
The Hawkeyes were one of the first Power 5 programs to get involved with Rubley, and he took a couple unofficial visits to Iowa City.
But no, he's not still considering Iowa. Rubley committed to Kansas State last January over programs such as Tennessee, LSU, Penn State, Michigan and Texas A&M.
He joins fellow Kansas State 2021 recruit Jayden Williams at Valley.
Matthew Bain covers recruiting and pretty much anything else under the sports sun for the Des Moines Register and USA TODAY Network. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @MatthewBain_.
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