Recruiting Notebook: April 22

T.J. Lang

The April live evaluation period opens on Friday, and the importance that weekend holds arises within this week's Notebook topics.

Each week, our four national recruiting analysts present bytes and intel from the recruiting trail. Here's the latest:

Decisions, Decisions

To me, the most interesting thing this upcoming weekend is that players will know exactly who is recruiting them. Even with four coaches being allowed on the road this year as opposed to three in years past, things are spread out. The major stops for the 17 and under levels are in Sacramento, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Dallas, Biloxi, Pittsburgh and Kansas City.

Obviously, those places aren't exactly driving distance from each other. Add in some quality events for younger teams in Akron and New Jersey, and you have a lot of events with a lot of players in many different parts of the country.

Because of this, if prospects are paying attention to who is watching them, they will know who is serious about them as potential recruits, and which schools might prefer them as a backup plan. There is a saying, "You are treated how you are recruited," and this weekend should give a lot of kids a real good idea of exactly how they will be recruited.

— Brian Snow

Stewart an important recruit for local programs

Elijah Stewart used a big senior year to catapult his national stock and now, following being released from his Letter of Intent to LMU, is hearing from several national programs.

Scout.com national recruiting analyst Evan Daniels reported this week that Pittsburgh, North Carolina, Texas, USC, Cincinnati, Boston College, Virginia and Oklahoma State will all be by Los Angeles Westchester to see the 6-foot-4 shooting guard, while UCLA has also thrown its hat in the ring for the four-star prospect.

Stewart's mother lives in Dallas, and the big decision he'll have to make is whether he goes closer to her for college or if he'll stay in Los Angeles. Should he stay in SoCal, it could create an important recruitment between USC and UCLA.

The Trojans, which have two assistants who played at Westchester in Tony Bland and Jason Hart, have the head start, but UCLA is going to be a serious challenger in any recruitment it gets involved in with a Southern California kid.

Both schools could really use Stewart's scoring ability, and convincing him to stay home is going to be important for the UCLA and USC coaching staffs.

— Josh Gershon

Lang Weighing Options

T.J. Lang, a 6-foot-7 forward out of Mobile (Ala.) McGill-Toolen, received his release from Virginia Tech three weeks ago and since a number of college programs have ramped up their interest in him.

Lang told Scout.com on Tuesday that he currently has scholarship offers from Auburn, Mississippi State, Jacksonville, Illinois State and Oregon State. California and TCU are also involved in his recruitment. Oregon State is expected to watch Lang on Tuesday.

"I have an official [visit] Friday to Auburn," Lang told Scout.com.

The Auburn visit is the only trip that Lang has scheduled. He's previously told Scout.com that he intends to take all four of his remaining college trips.

During his senior season, Lang averaged 18 points and eight rebounds a game.

— Evan Daniels

EYBL faces rejuvenated competition

When Nike launched its organized, competitive Elite Youth Basketball League in 2010, its grassroots competitors greeted the news with surprise and alarm. Nike already stood atop the travel season in terms of talent, but the EYBL enabled the company to tighten its stranglehold from that point forward. Apart from the smattering of events in Las Vegas in late July, other circuits struggled to gain traction with the media, college coaches or the all-important players themselves.

But after a few years alone atop the roost, both Under Armour and Adidas have responded. Under Armour's second annual Association tips off this weekend with dual events in Kansas City and Pittsburgh, and UA's network of teams will compete in Atlanta to determine an overall winner in July.

Meanwhile, Adidas has instituted a league of its own that features several round robins and culminates in Las Vegas — at the Super 64 — in late July. While Nike still claims the best teams, the other competitors have amassed impressive stables of their own.

Ultimately, players who like certain programs, teammates or coaches off the Nike circuit can play with those teams and still compete in a league environment. Does that mean Nike's demise is imminent? Probably not, but greater competition will create a healthier overall grassroots environment.

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

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