Recruiting Notebook: April 15

Ray Smith

For many, April 15 signifies that time of year when their relationship with the federal government becomes very strained.

But here at Scout, we're debuting our weekly Notebook feature that will incorporate news and opinions from our national experts.

Early returns from the Midwest

Over the past few years the Midwest, specifically Indiana and Illinois, has been one of, if not the most fertile recruiting grounds in the country. The area has been loaded with top level talent and depth, but in 2015 things look to be on the downturn.

Over the past two weekends I have seen nearly all the states of Wisconsin, Illinois, and Indiana have to offer. and almost across the board all three areas are down significantly. Michigan is probably slightly down as well, with Ohio being the only state which looks to be on the upturn.

No conference is going to feel this impact more than the Big Ten. Big Ten schools have really risen over the past five years with the huge rise in talent within their backyard, though now they might have to take a more national approach to recruiting at least for the foreseeable future, especially for programs that have focused on Indiana and Illinois.

There is of course still time for kids to rise up, one in specific that has is Esa Ahmad, but there is no doubt that right now the region doesn't have quite the same pop that it has had in years past, and it will be interesting to see how the schools in that recruiting bread basket will react.

— Brian Snow

Small forward shortage out west in 2015

In 2014, there wasn't a more loaded position on the West Coast than small forward. Stanley Johnson (Arizona) is probably one of the top five prospects in the country, while Malik Pope (San Diego State), Kameron Chatman (Michigan), Daniel Hamilton (Connecticut) and Shaqquan Aaron (Louisville) are all no-brainer high major small forwards.

Malik Marquetti (USC) and Chandler Hutchison (Boise State) used strong senior years to boast their stock into that discussion as well. Donovan Dorsey (Washington), Isaiah Bailey (Compton) and Evan Wardlow (Santa Clara) are three more small forwards that could surprise people in college.

But the position isn't quite as strong out west in 2015. Ray Smith is an elite prospect at the position, while Cameron Walker is a backend Top 100 prospect getting seriously recruited by high-major schools. Options are limited after that. Nate Grimes is a Mountain West priority, while New Mexico landed Arizona native Dane Kuiper early. Roman Davis has received interest, while Joshua Conley and Nick Blair could see their recruitments improve with big summers.

Heading into AAU season, no position out west is more important to see prospects emerge from than small forward. If things don't get better by the end of July, there will be a lot of schools saving a scholarship and banking on the 2016 class at the position being better.

— Josh Gershon

Point guards emerging?

One of the biggest topics heading into the spring centered on the lack of point guards in the 2015 class. The key travel team events haven't really gone off yet, but we are already seeing a couple of senior-to-be point guards emerging.

The player who stood out to me the most in March is 6-foot-1 Saint James (Md.) School standout Justin Robinson. He caught my eye in December and he further confirmed my thought that was a high major prospect at the Metro Challenge two weeks ago.

Unfortunately, college coaches may not get to evaluate him during the live period because of a severe ankle injury he suffered this week. Robinson, who will play with Boo Williams, is a true lead guard with impressive vision and passing. He's also a more than capable shot maker from three.

Another point guard to keep an eye on is Mableton (Ga.) Pebblebrook product Ty Hudson. The 6-foot-1 guard had a strong showing at The Elite Preview and word from college coaches is he's been backing up his play in recent workouts.

A tough, hardnosed guard, Hudson looked like a potential high-major lead guard when I saw him. He has impressive speed, is a solid ball handler and played the game with toughness. He'll likely draw plenty of high major suitors this spring playing for Southern Stampede.

While I haven't seen him this spring, Derrick Bruce was a standout at the NY2LA Swish N' Dish to colleague Brian Snow. Bruce, who has a long, wiry frame, had a strong season at Ontario (Calif.) Colony, and that appears to be carrying over to the AAU season.

Bruce is doing a year of prep school at Elev-8 Academy in Florida. He's playing with Inland Empire on the travel team circuit.

— Evan Daniels

Building from the ground up

The spring evaluation period is just under two weeks away. That national weekend, April 25-27, will be the uncompromised focus of every coach and recruitnik in the country, but meaningful action has taken place already this month.

We obviously believe in the importance of the high school postseason, as evidenced by our McDonald's coverage. But even ignoring the outgoing senior class, several key events quietly have kicked off the travel season.

Most of them have been local or regional in nature. While teams break the bank to travel to national affairs during the live period, AAU squads like to test out personnel and combinations prior to undertaking their most ambitious endeavors. Meanwhile, some unsigned seniors such as Kanayo Obi-Rapu also have emerged as late major possibilities.

Accordingly, in the past month I have been attended three different events in the heart of Tobacco Road, each featuring an assortment of players from within North Carolina and extending from Maryland down to Florida. Watching players at smaller, lower-key events enables scouts to create a foundation by which to evaluate those players as well as to form comparison points for their peers.

By the time we get to late April, I'll be able to focus more heavily on players outside the region and view national underclassmen within a fresher, sharper context.

My local schedule becomes fully regional this weekend, as I'll attend the Hoop Group's Southern Jam Fest in Hampton, Va. That event always features talented squads from throughout the East Coast. One month later, I'll head back to Hampton to absorb one of Nike's nationally renowned EYBL events.

But it all starts close to home.

— Rob Harrington

Evan Daniels, Brian Snow, Josh Gershon and Rob Harrington contributed to this report

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