Categories
Featured

Kentucky basketball recruiting: Could fast-rising Kira Lewis get next 2019 offer from John Calipari?

Kentucky-recruiting-Kira Lewis-2019-guard-Kansas-Alabama-Auburn-UK recruiting-Kentucky recruiting-John Calipari-De'Aaron Fox-John Wall

INDIANAPOLIS — Kentucky coaches have compared him to De’Aaron Fox. He’s lit up the Nike AAU circuit this spring. New scholarship offers arrive daily. So how is Kira Lewis just barely considered a top-100 recruit by most of the major services?

Simply put, it was an industry-wide oversight, and it will be corrected very shortly.

“Unfortunately, I didn’t have an opportunity to evaluate him prior to this spring,” said 247Sports scouting director Evan Daniels, whose site currently ranks Lewis the 96th-best prospect in the Class of 2019. “Now that I have, it’s safe to say he’s due a big bump.”

The 6-foot-3 Lewis ranks sixth in Nike’s Elite Youth Basketball League in points per game (21.8) and fourth in steals per game (2.6) to go with 3.4 assists per game and 40 percent 3-point shooting through two weekends against some of the best players in America. Kansas just offered him a scholarship, well behind most of the SEC.

Auburn, Alabama, Georgia, LSU, Mississippi, Tennessee and Vanderbilt have already thrown their hats into the ring for the Hazel Green, Ala., native — as have Baylor, Clemson, Connecticut, Indiana, among many others — and now Kentucky is calling.

Wildcats assistant coach Kenny Payne dialed Lewis after a breakout first weekend in the EYBL last month and “was telling me about how he liked my game, my speed, which kind of reminded him of De’Aaron Fox a little bit and John Wall,” Lewis said. “So that was great to hear from him. He puts guys in the league — Coach Cal does and Coach Payne does — and it’s a guard school. They just let their guards play fast, up tempo. It’s great hearing from them.”

RELATED: Analysts predict most/least likely 2019 recruits to pick UK

Payne told Lewis that Kentucky plans to keep monitoring him this spring and summer. The Wildcats could be forgiven for jumping into his recruitment later than most. John Calipari has been busy trying to hoard all of the 5-star guards in this class.

Ashton Hagans, Tyrese Maxey and Jalen Lecque, all top-15 overall recruits, have UK offers and some interest in reclassifying to play college basketball this fall.

Hagans is already committed to the Cats and widely expected to make that move to 2018. Maxey is considered a heavy UK lean — he’s announcing his commitment Wednesday — and might also enroll early. If both do that, there’s a good chance Lecque goes elsewhere.

Point being, Kentucky will still want to sign a point guard from whatever is left in the 2019 class when the dust settles. Lewis looks like an increasingly good option.

“He has game-changing speed, is a playmaker in transition and has the tools to be a good defender,” Daniels said. “He’s one of the breakout performers of the spring.”

So far, Kentucky has offered 10 players in the Class of 2019: No. 1 James Wiseman (center), No. 2 Vernon Carey (power forward), No. 4 Matthew Hurt (power forward), No. 7 Bryan Antoine (shooting guard), No. 8 Scottie Lewis (small forward), No. 9 Lecque (combo guard), No. 10 Hagans (point guard), No. 13 Maxey (point guard), No. 27 Keion Brooks (small forward) and No. 31 D.J. Jeffries (small forward) — with Hagans and Jeffries committed.

Who might be next? Lewis is an option, as is 6-foot-10 Bam Adebayo clone Aidan Igiehon. But what about Isaiah Stewart? He’s ranked the No. 14 player in the class and passes the eye test at a chiseled 6-foot-8, 243 pounds. He’s averaging 16.1 points and an EYBL-best 10.5 rebounds per game.

Stewart is getting close to cutting down his list of schools — Duke, Michigan State, Indiana, Louisville, Texas, Virginia and Villanova on the long list he’s trying to whittle — but he said it isn’t too late for Kentucky. If the Wildcats offer, he’ll listen.

“Kentucky came up earlier in the school year to visit with me,” the Rochester, N.Y., native said, “but I haven’t done much with them since.”

Even as the Wildcats are in strong early positions with their top two targets in the post, No. 1 and 2 overall Wiseman and Carey, the lack of interest in Stewart so far seems strange. He looks like a player who can make an impact from Day 1 in college and says everything Calipari likes to hear.

Asked to describe his ideal school, “I want to go somewhere where I can develop and grow, be coached and get better,” Stewart said.

Asked whether he has one eye on the NBA, “Oh, no, no,” Stewart said. “What’s weird is some schools pitch the one-and-done to me, but that’s something I’m not really worried about. I’m worried about coming into college and getting better and trying to win some games — hopefully a championship.”

Asked if he wants to be the man in college, “I’ve been in both situations,” Stewart said. “I’ve been in situations where I’m the main guy or I’ve been in situations where I’ve sort of got to share the show. I feel like I’m an easy player to play with.”

So what is Calipari waiting for? Chris Mack certainly couldn’t say. He’s been hot on Stewart’s heels since he was at Xavier and has only intensified the pursuit since taking over as the coach at Kentucky’s rival, Louisville.

“They just went to a bigger stage and they’re still recruiting me hard,” said Stewart, who was asked whether the Cardinals have a real shot at landing him. “I had a really good relationship with them back at Xavier, so yes.”

RELATED: Jeffries not swayed by Penny, trying to sway Wiseman

RELATED: Bam Adebayo told Vernon Carey UK the spot for 1-and-done 

RELATED: Could Keion Brooks be first Cats-Cards battle under Mack?

RELATED: Latest on top-10 teammates, UK targets Lewis and Antoine

RELATED: Did Cats discover Bam 2.0 watching Lewis and Antoine? 

RELATED: In-state star Tandy’s dad not holding breath for UK offer

RELATED: Mini Mash, son of Jamal Mashburn, making own name

The post Kentucky basketball recruiting: Could fast-rising Kira Lewis get next 2019 offer from John Calipari? appeared first on SEC Country.

Kyle Tucker – SEC Country

Categories
Featured

South Carolina’s big recruiting weekend; Gamecocks’ top remaining targets for 2019

South Carolina Gamecocks-South Carolina recruiting-Jammie Robinson-Gamecocks football

Welcome to SEC Country’s Chicken & Waffles, your daily dish for all things South Carolina Gamecocks football, basketball and more. Miss a previous edition? Find every edition of SEC Country’s South Carolina Gamecocks Chicken & Waffles right here.

It’s official

Four-star defensive end and 2019 prospect Savion Jackson plans to take an official visit to South Carolina this weekend, according to a tweet he posted Tuesday afternoon.

Jackson is rated as the No. 45 overall prospect for 2019, according to the 247Sports composite.

Top 6

Three-star athlete and 2019 prospect Jammie Robinson announced his top 6 schools on Twitter on Tuesday.

South Carolina made the cut along with Auburn, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan and UT Chattanooga.

The 247Sports composite ranks Robinson as the No. 33 athlete for 2019. The Crisp County (Ga.) High School standout plans to take an official visit to South Carolina this weekend.

Guest list

In addition to Jackson and Robinson, the Gamecocks will welcome at least three other non-committed 2019 targets to Columbia this weekend for official visits, including:

  • 4-star DE Joseph Anderson (Murfreesboro, Tenn.)
  • 3-star LB Derek Boykins (Concord, N.C.)
  • 3-star T Anthony Whigan (Lackawanna College, Scranton, Pa.)

Two 2019 commits may also be on campus: 3-star LB Jahmar Brown and 5-star DE Zacch Pickens.

MORE: Want this roundup in your inbox every morning? Sign up here!

Top targets

They may not be visiting this weekend, but the South Carolina coaching staff would love to bring these four 2019 prospects back to Columbia this summer, according to SEC Country’s Hale McGranahan:

  • 4-star DE Curtis Fann Jr. (Twin City, Ga.)
  • 4-star T Warren McClendon (Brunswick, Ga.)
  • 4-star LB Kalen Deloach (Savannah, Ga.)
  • 4-star S Jaylen McCollough (Powder Springs, Ga.)

The Gamecocks’ 2019 haul — with 12 commits — is currently ranked No. 7 in 247Sports’ 2019 football recruiting composite team rankings.

On transfers

Though South Carolina coach Will Muschamp is wary of immediate eligibility for undergraduate transfers, he understands that not all situations are the same.

“Josh Shaw was a young man I had at the University of Florida who was from Southern California and he had some issues in his family,” Muschamp said. “I appealed to the NCAA for immediate eligibility for him. I mean there’s so many different reasons why a young man’s transferring that it’s hard to lump it all into one category and say this is why it’s accurate. It’s not.”

Three graduate transfers will take the field for the Gamecocks this season: cornerback Nick Harvey (Texas A&M), kicker Shane Hynes (Kent State) and safety J.T. Ibe (Rice).

Waiting on answer

According to South Carolina athletic director Ray Tanner, the Gamecocks may soon have an update on Brian Bowen’s eligibility, per Josh Kendall of The State.

“I think we are going to have some clarity,” Tanner said Tuesday. “I have some tidbits of information that there is a possibility that we will have some updated information.”

Bowen’s remained in NCAA limbo since transferring to South Carolina from Louisville in January.

Chiming in

D1Baseball.com’s Kendall Rogers shared his thoughts on Clemson fans’ conspiracy theory that Tanner, as a member of the NCAA Tournament selection committee, intentionally overlooked the Tigers as a national seed.

Clemson will host a regional but is not one of the tournament’s top 8 seeds.

Craving more Chicken & Waffles? Get your fix with previous versions here.

The post South Carolina’s big recruiting weekend; Gamecocks’ top remaining targets for 2019 appeared first on SEC Country.

Daniel Sweeney – SEC Country

Categories
Featured

Mississippi’s finest: MSU, Ole Miss have battle on their hands for rich 2019 in-state recruiting class

Mississippi-Mississippi State-Dan Mullen-Hugh Freeze

The states where SEC schools reside are home to some of the best recruiting grounds in the country, headlined by the prospect-rich likes of Texas, Florida and Georgia. Usually, we don’t include Mississippi in that conversation, but next year will mark a major exception.

Ole Miss and Mississippi State have some serious in-state talent at their disposal in the Class of 2019. For only the second time since 2011, the Magnolia State will have nine recruits with at least a 4-star rating, including a pair of 5-star prospects, according to the 247Sports composite rankings. And, as coaches slowly begin shifting their focus to the 2019 class, the number of blue-chip recruits could be even higher by next spring.

Headlining the class are 5-star outside linebacker Nakobe Dean (Horn Lake) and 5-star defensive end Nathan Pickering. They already have offers from at least six schools each, including Ole Miss and Mississippi State, and 247Sports has both ranked top-5 nationally at their respective positions.

Rounding out the list of Mississippi blue-chippers are defensive end Charles Moore, running back Jerrion Ealy, receiver Dannis Jackson, defensive end Byron Young, tackle Brandon Cunningham, athlete Diwun Black and athlete Brandon Turnage, an Oxford native. Georgia, LSU, Louisville and Tennessee have all offered Turnage.

The Rebels and Bulldogs have gotten an early crack at recruiting this elite top 10. But a big question looms: How stiff will the competition be in 2019?

When it comes to keeping top talent at home, the past couple recruiting cycles haven’t been so kind to the in-state powers.

In 2017, four of the top-12 ranked recruits signed with out-of-state programs; 4-stars Nigel Knott, Raekwon Davis and Scott Lashley all landed at Alabama. Then in 2017, five of the top 8 recruits left Mississippi, including the state’s No. 1 prospect Cam Akers (Florida State). No more than two of the state’s top-10 recruits left the state in any of the previous six classes (2010-15).

For Ole Miss and Mississippi State, it’s a somewhat troubling trend, albeit one that can be partly attributed to the NCAA’s months-long investigation of the Rebels’ football program. Coach Hugh Freeze went so far as to characterize his 2017 signing class, ranked No. 12 in the SEC, as a “penalty.”

MSU finds itself in a much better position. The Bulldogs signed 5-star Jeffery Simmons in 2016, and added local stars Willie Gay and Kyrin Hill this offseason. They’ve also cleaned up at the JUCO level while making forays into Georgia, Louisiana and Texas for their quarterbacks — Nick Fitzgerald, Keytaon Thompson and 2018 commit Jalen Mayden, respectively.

With Ole Miss still mired in murky waters, will coach Dan Mullen’s staff be able to take advantage? LSU, Alabama, Louisville and even Tennessee have swiped recruits from Mississippi in recent years.

Conversely, will Freeze keep his job and find the closure he seeks from the NCAA? And if so, can he get the Rebels recruiting at an elite level again?

Time will tell, but one thing’s for sure: the Magnolia State will host some fierce recruiting battles in 2019.

The post Mississippi’s finest: MSU, Ole Miss have battle on their hands for rich 2019 in-state recruiting class appeared first on SEC Country.

Alec Shirkey – SEC Country

Categories
Featured

South Carolina target to decide this week; 2019 recruiting board looking good

South Carolina Gamecocks-Keveon Mullins-South Carolina recruiting

Welcome to SEC Country’s Chicken & Waffles, your daily dish for all things South Carolina Gamecocks football, basketball and more. Miss a previous edition? Find every edition of SEC Country’s South Carolina Gamecocks Chicken & Waffles right here.

#SpursUp watch

Four-star wide receiver/safety and 2019 prospect Keveon Mullins is planning to announce his commitment later this week. The South Carolina Gamecocks and Memphis Tigers are believed to be his finalists.

The 247Sports composite ranks the 6-foot-3, 210-pound athlete as the No. 258 overall prospect and No. 17 athlete for 2019.

Mullins visited South Carolina for the Will Muschamp Football Camp on June 12.

Keep climbing

The Gamecocks’ top-15 2019 recruiting haul could impress even more with pledges from major targets such as Mullins, 5-star athlete Quavaris Crouch, 5-star defensive tackle Travon Walker and others.

“South Carolina is also in the mix for defensive tackle Travon Walker, who took an official visit earlier in June. Walker (Thomaston, Ga.) is cousins with current Gamecocks D.J. and Dylan Wonnum, but there are some heavy hitters in the rest of his lead group, namely Alabama, Clemson and Georgia,” SEC Country’s Hale McGranahan writes.

Getting defensive

The Gamecocks are pursuing several top defensive back prospects for 2019, including 4-star cornerbacks Chris Steele and Jaydon Hill, 4-star junior college cornerback D.J. Daniel, 3-star cornerbacks Cameron Smith and John Dixon and 3-star athlete Jammie Robinson.

“Steele is set to reveal his commitment in July, and Southern Cal is the perceived favorite,” McGranahan writes. “Daniel, Smith and Robinson are believed to be deciding between South Carolina and Georgia. Hill is also considering Tennessee and Mississippi State. Penn State is the primary competitor for Dixon.”

South Carolina does not currently have any defensive backs committed for 2019.

In the trenches

The Gamecocks may not have any pledges in the defensive backfield for 2019, but they have plenty of incoming talent and depth along the defensive line.

“Five defensive linemen are also on board: [Zacch] Pickens, 4-star end Joseph Anderson (Murfreesboro, Tenn.), 3-star junior college end Devontae Davis (Georgia Military College), 3-star end Rodricus Fitten (Atlanta) and 3-star junior college tackle Jahkeem Green (Highland Community College),” McGranahan writes.

Pickens is South Carolina’s highest-rated commit, ranked as the No. 19 overall prospect and No. 1 strongside defensive end for 2019.

MORE: Want this roundup in your inbox every morning? Sign up here!

Strong words

Former Gamecocks standout and Washington Redskins safety D.J. Swearinger likes what sees from Muschamp and his staff.

“I know Coach Muschamp is doing a great job getting those guys NFL ready and that’s what we’re trying to get back to, DBU,” the Greenwood, S.C., native told The Big Spur’s John Del Bianco.

During his time in Columbia (2009-12), Swearinger posted 244 tackles and 6 interceptions, including 3 returns for touchdowns (2 interception, 1 fumble). The second-team All-SEC safety (2012) was picked No. 57 overall by the Houston Texans in the 2013 NFL Draft.

Countdown

South Carolina football is less than 10 weeks away.

To celebrate the 70-day mark, Twitter user @GamecockSplash flashed back to Ace Sanders’ electric punt return touchdown against Georgia in 2012.

The Gamecocks open the 2018 campaign on Sept. 1 against Coastal Carolina at Williams-Brice Stadium.

Craving more Chicken & Waffles? Get your fix with previous versions here.

The post South Carolina target to decide this week; 2019 recruiting board looking good appeared first on SEC Country.

Daniel Sweeney – SEC Country

Categories
Featured

Kentucky basketball recruiting: Analysts predict 5-stars Calipari is most, least likely to land in 2019

Kentucky-recruiting-John Calipari-2019-class-James Wiseman-Tyrese Maxey-Jalen Lecque-Keion Brooks-predictions-commitment-Ashton Hagans-Vernon Carey

LEXINGTON, Ky. — You might’ve noticed that Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari has been a man on a mission recruiting elite players from the Class of 2019. He already has extended scholarship offers to 10 of the top 35 prospects in the country.

Two of them wasted no time accepting: point guard Ashton Hagans and small forward D.J. Jeffries, ranked No. 10 and 32 overall per the 247Sports composite, quickly committed to the Wildcats. Hagans is widely expected to reclassify and play for Kentucky in the fall — and he might not be alone.

Calipari has offered eight other 5-star players in 2019: No. 1 James Wiseman (6-11 center), No. 2 Vernon Carey  (6-10 power forward), No. 4 Matthew Hurt (6-9 power forward), No. 7 Bryan Antoine (6-5 shooting guard), No. 8 Scottie Lewis (6-5 small forward), No. 9 Jalen Lecque (6-4 combo guard), No. 13 Tyrese Maxey (6-3 point guard) and No. 28 Keion Brooks (6-8 small forward).

Like Hagans, both Maxey and Lecque — the most recent offer — are considering a move to the 2018 class. Reclassification fever and a potential logjam in Kentucky’s backcourt this season are discussions for another day. In the meantime, regardless of when they might be coming to Lexington, let’s take a stab at which current 2019 stars are most likely to choose the Cats at some point.

We polled national recruiting analysts at 247Sports, Rivals, ESPN and The Athletic who agreed to participate in a simple exercise: rank these eight 5-stars with Kentucky offers in descending order of your confidence they’ll sign with the Wildcats. All four ranked Maxey as most likely to pick UK and, interestingly, three of the four had the exact same order for the top six — Maxey, Wiseman, Lecque, Brooks, Lewis and Hurt — with prized big man Carey among their two least likely signees.

Jerry Meyer, national scouting director at 247, offered a dissenting opinion: ranking Carey as second-most likely to commit to the Cats and Wiseman fifth-most likely.

The unanimous choice of Maxey at No. 1 is no surprise, as it seems like a commitment and reclassification decision could come any day now. But Wiseman as the second-highest confidence pick on three ballots has to be encouraging for Big Blue Nation considering all the buzz and momentum lately for Memphis and its new head coach, Penny Hardaway.

Wiseman played for Hardaway’s AAU and high school teams, a relationship that has caused many recruitniks (including Meyer) to predict he’ll pick the Tigers.  So we also asked each analyst to explain why he’s still so high on Kentucky’s chances with Wiseman (or not) relative to top targets in this class.

Andrew Slater, The Athletic

1. Tyrese Maxey

2. James Wiseman

3. Jalen Lecque

4. Keion Brooks

5. Scottie Lewis

6. Matthew Hurt

7. Vernon Carey

8. Bryan Antoine

Why Wiseman at No. 2? “Kentucky has a very good chance at Wiseman, but I think you have to view Memphis as a major threat, despite the differences in track record. It’s a matter of childhood hero and family friend versus the program he grew up rooting for.”

Follow Andrew on Twitter

Jeff Borzello, ESPN

1. Tyrese Maxey

2. James Wiseman

3. Jalen Lecque

4. Keion Brooks

5. Scottie Lewis

6. Matthew Hurt

7. Vernon Carey

8. Bryan Antoine

Why Wiseman at No. 2: “I just think, right now, Kentucky is still the favorite. Most of the buzz still points in Kentucky’s direction, and I think the coaches have developed a good enough relationship with the family to the point where Penny taking over at Memphis doesn’t automatically eliminate Kentucky. Now, could things change moving forward and Wiseman decides he just likes the familiarity of Penny? Of course. But right now, Kentucky still appears to have most of the buzz.”

Follow Jeff on Twitter

Corey Evans, Rivals.com

1. Tyrese Maxey

2. James Wiseman

3. Jalen Lecque

4. Keion Brooks

5. Scottie Lewis

6. Matthew Hurt

7. Bryan Antoine

8. Vernon Carey

Why Wiseman at No. 2? “Two things: It’s not a done deal for Memphis [because] Wiseman is different than these other dudes. He’s the cream of the crop, someone that Calipari has gone all-in on, unlike some of these other prospects Memphis has landed. Plus, I just don’t feel good on the others they’re involved with for a variety of reasons, whether they aren’t totally sure that they really want the specific prospect or other programs are ahead of UK on the respective players’ lists.”

Follow Corey on Twitter

Jerry Meyer, 247Sports

1. Tyrese Maxey

2. Vernon Carey

3. Jalen Lecque

4. Keion Brooks

5. James Wiseman

6. Scottie Lewis

7. Bryan Antoine

8. Matthew Hurt

Why Wiseman at No. 5? Meyer detailed his skepticism that Calipari and Kentucky can pry Wiseman away from Hardaway and out of Memphis in a recent interview with The Herald-Leader’s Ben Roberts. Hardaway is “a god in Memphis,” Meyer said. “Well, that’s where James Wiseman is living now. He played for Penny. And if he already likes the guy so much and likes playing for him as a coach, it’s just hard to see him walking away from that.”

Follow Jerry on Twitter

* * *

Let’s say the Wildcats sign the top half of that list and that both Hagans and Maxey reclassify and enroll this fall. That would leave as an incoming freshman class for the 2019-20 season: No. 1 James Wiseman (center), No. 9 Jalen Lecque (combo guard), No. 28 Keion Brooks (small forward) and No. 32 D.J. Jeffries (small forward) — plus probably one or two more elite players the Wildcats have not yet offered for 2019.

A lot can and will change between now and the first signing period. For instance, Slater’s thoughts on Lecque came with a caveat: that he stays in this class and doesn’t move up to 2018 like so many other rising seniors. Lecque is considering that move, though, and it would change things if he does. Reclassification in his case likely means Kentucky isn’t the pick.

Stay tuned. Calipari and Co. are just getting started.

RELATED: Jeffries not swayed by Penny, trying to sway Wiseman

RELATED: Bam Adebayo told Vernon Carey UK the spot for 1-and-done 

RELATED: Could Keion Brooks be first Cats-Cards battle under Mack?

RELATED: Latest on top-10 teammates, UK targets Lewis and Antoine

RELATED: Did Cats discover Bam 2.0 watching Lewis and Antoine? 

RELATED: In-state star Tandy’s dad not holding breath for UK offer

RELATED: Mini Mash, son of Jamal Mashburn, making own name

 

 

 

 

The post Kentucky basketball recruiting: Analysts predict 5-stars Calipari is most, least likely to land in 2019 appeared first on SEC Country.

Kyle Tucker – SEC Country

Categories
Featured

South Carolina TE picked No. 25 overall in NFL Draft; Gamecocks battle Bulldogs for 2019 prospects

South Carolina football-Hayden Hurst-nfl draft-Baltimore Ravens

Welcome to SEC Country’s Chicken & Waffles, your daily dish for all things South Carolina Gamecocks football, basketball and more. Miss a previous edition? Find every edition of SEC Country’s South Carolina Gamecocks Chicken & Waffles right here.

Showtime

Former South Carolina Gamecocks tight end Hayden Hurst was picked No. 25 overall by the Baltimore Ravens in the 2018 NFL Draft on Thursday night.

Hurst is first former South Carolina player picked in the first round since Jadeveon Clowney went No. 1 overall to the Houston Texans in the 2014 NFL Draft.

Border rivals

Not only do the Gamecocks and Georgia Bulldogs meet on the football field every year, they also constantly compete against one another on the recruiting trail. The battle for the top 2019 prospects is no different.

“Five-star defensive end Zacch Pickens [Anderson, S.C.] is the top-rated, non-committed target South Carolina and Georgia are battling for, but Clemson is also in the mix,” SEC Country’s Hale McGranahan wrote. “The Gamecocks had him on campus last weekend.”

The SEC East rivals are duking it out for a handful of 4-star prospects from the Peach State, including defensive tackles Travon Walker and Jaelin Humphries, defensive ends Dante Walker and Curtis Fann, tackle Warren McClendon and athlete Jammie Robinson.

South Carolina’s 2019 class, with nine commits, is currently ranked No. 13 in 247Sports’ 2019 football recruiting composite team rankings.

‘It’s just beginning’

South Carolina coach Will Muschamp is pulling for his former players, from both South Carolina and Florida, in the 2018 NFL Draft.

“I will call Hayden [Hurst] and all the guys and wish them luck,” the third-year Gamecocks coach said. “It’s just the beginning; it’s not the end. It’s the beginning of their career. Whatever round each of them go into, at the end of the day you’ve got to go produce.”

With the Ravens picking Hurst on Thursday night, a Muschamp-coached player has been picked in the first round in each of the last six NFL drafts, according to a tweet from the South Carolina football team.

Coming soon

Which summer enrollees will make the biggest impact for the Gamecocks in 2018? The Big Spur’s John Whittle has a couple of ideas.

“Muschamp says that the further away from the ball you get, the easier it is to contribute as a freshman. Well, Rick Sandidge will play pretty darn close to the football, but he’s also going to be expected to play anyway,” Whittle wrote. “As a senior at Concord High School, he had 83 total tackles, including 5 quarterback sacks and a pair of blocked kicks to go along with it.”

Sandidge was the Gamecocks’ highest-rated commit for 2018, ranked No. 141 overall in the 247Sports composite.

MORE: Want this roundup in your inbox every morning? Sign up here!

High ceiling

Four-star OT and South Carolina signee Dylan Wonnum hasn’t arrived on campus yet, but Gamecocks offensive line coach Eric Wolford is already excited about him.

“That’s a great thing,” Wolford said, via Ben Breiner of The State. “Dylan’s got a chance; the sky’s the limit. He’s got a great future in football. I’m just glad he’s on our team.”

Wonnum, the younger brother of South Carolina outside linebacker/defensive end D.J. Wonnum, was rated as the No. 148 overall prospect for 2019, per the 247Sports composite.

Top 10

Baseball America tabbed South Carolina’s Founders Park as one of the top 10 college ballparks.

The Gamecocks have called Founders Park home since the stadium opened in February 2009. The venue’s hosted three NCAA Regional Tournaments and three Super Regionals.

Full circle

SEC Network provided a fun fact following Hurst’s selection in the first round of the draft on Thursday night.

Hurst led all SEC tight ends in receptions (44) and yards (559) in 2017.

Craving more Chicken & Waffles? Get your fix with previous versions here.

The post South Carolina TE picked No. 25 overall in NFL Draft; Gamecocks battle Bulldogs for 2019 prospects appeared first on SEC Country.

Daniel Sweeney – SEC Country

Categories
Featured

Gamecocks’ top recruiting battles for 2019; previewing South Carolina’s in-state talent for 2020

South Carolina Gamecocks-South Carolina recruiting-Zacch Pickens-Gamecocks recruiting

Welcome to SEC Country’s Chicken & Waffles, your daily dish for all things South Carolina Gamecocks football, basketball and more. Miss a previous edition? Find every edition of SEC Country’s South Carolina Gamecocks Chicken & Waffles right here.

Recruiting rivals

The South Carolina Gamecocks are battling the Clemson Tigers for many of the top prospects in the 2019 recruiting cycle, including:

  • 5-star athlete Quavaris Crouch (Charlotte, N.C.)
  • 5-star defensive end Zacch Pickens (Anderson, S.C.)
  • 4-star linebacker Kalen Deloach (Savannah, Ga.)
  • 4-star tackle Warren McClendon (Brunswick, Ga.)
  • 4-star guard Keiondre Jones (Hogansville, Ga.)
  • 3-star linebacker Derek Boykins (Concord, N.C.)

South Carolina’s 2019 class is rated No. 12 in the 247Sports’ 2019 football recruiting composite team rankings.

Top talent

The Palmetto State boasts several highly touted prospects for 2020, particularly along the defensive line.

“Five-star defensive end Jordan Burch [Columbia, S.C.] has an early grip on the No. 1 spot in the class and [South Carolina and Clemson] have already offered,” McGranahan wrote. “The two schools have also offered 4-star defensive end Tonka Hemingway [Conway, S.C.].”

South Carolina has two commits for 2020: 3-star running back Mecose Todd and guard Tyshawn Wannamaker.

Making the trip

Four-star junior college cornerback Elijah Blades will visit South Carolina on June 2, according to SEC Country’s Sam Spiegelman.

Blades is rated as the No. 3 overall JUCO prospect for 2019, according to 247Sports.

In addition to South Carolina, the 6-foot-2, 170-pound cornerback lists offers from Alabama, Oregon, Florida, Texas, Tennessee and Ole Miss.

Moving on

South Carolina’s men’s basketball team has parted ways with reserve guard Rakym Felder, coach Frank Martin announced on Monday.

“When Rakym and I met to discuss his return to our program, there were certain things that I asked of him and unfortunately he has not met those expectations,” Martin said in a release. “I’m disappointed that he did not take advantage of the opportunity to fully return to our program. We wish him the best with his future.”

In his lone season with the Gamecocks, the Brooklyn, N.Y., native averaged 5.6 points and 1.3 assists per game through the 2016-17 season.

MORE: Want this roundup in your inbox every morning? Sign up here!

Keep climbing

Four-star quarterback and South Carolina commit Ryan Hilinski is the No. 1 pro-style quarterback for 2019, according to ESPN.

Hilinski committed to the Gamecocks on April 4. He’s South Carolina’s highest-rated commit for 2019.

SEC honors

South Carolina freshman pitcher Logan Chapman was named SEC Co-Freshman of the Week on Monday.

The right-hander has a 3-0 record, a 3.29 earned run average and 40 strikeouts in 41 innings pitched.

Back on campus

Former South Carolina star and the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 WNBA Draft A’ja Wilson returned to Columbia on Monday night for the Gamecock Gala.

The three-time SEC Player of the Year and consensus National Player of the Year for 2018 took home the President’s Award.

A four-time All-SEC selection, Wilson averaged 17.1 points and 8.5 rebounds per game in her career at South Carolina.

Craving more Chicken & Waffles? Get your fix with previous versions here.

The post Gamecocks’ top recruiting battles for 2019; previewing South Carolina’s in-state talent for 2020 appeared first on SEC Country.

Daniel Sweeney – SEC Country

Categories
Featured

South Carolina’s offense after spring practice; Gamecocks’ QB targets for 2019

South Carolina football-K.C. Crosby

Welcome to SEC Country’s Chicken & Waffles, your daily dish for all things South Carolina Gamecocks football, basketball and more. Miss a previous edition? Find every edition of SEC Country’s South Carolina Gamecocks Chicken & Waffles right here.

Post spring

What does the South Carolina Gamecocks offense look like after spring practice? SEC Country’s Hale McGranahan breaks down the depth chart on that side of ball.

The quarterback, wide receiver and running back positions are set, but the Gamecocks are looking to fill a major hole at tight end.

“Replacing Hayden Hurst won’t be easy, but there are plenty of options, though some aren’t exactly of the same mold,” McGranahan wrote. “KC Crosby and Kiel Pollard, for now, look like the best two options, at least as pass catchers. But those two are H-back options. Call it a gut feeling, but here’s to thinking Crosby returns to his 2016 form, when he caught 4 touchdown passes among his 23 receptions.”

South Carolina holds its final spring practice on Thursday.

Future under center

With 4-star QB and 2019 prospect Garrett Shrader committing to Mississippi State on Tuesday, the Gamecocks are turning elsewhere for the future of the quarterback position.

South Carolina has two primary targets at the position: 4-star prospect Ryan Hilinski and 3-star recruit Taulia Tagovailoa, younger brother of Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa. The Gamecocks have offered at least three other 2019 signal callers: 4-star prospects Sam Howell and Taisun Phommachanh and 3-star recruit Jacob Conover.

Hilinski, like Shrader, was on campus last weekend for the Gamecocks’ Garnet and Black spring game. He’s rated as the No. 308 overall prospect for 2019, per the 247Sports composite.

Earn it

South Carolina offensive line coach Eric Wolford felt he owed interior offensive lineman Donell Stanley a shot at center.

The move appears to have paid off as the redshirt junior lined up at the position in the spring game.

“At the end of the day, it’s important to him and I’m glad he’s on our team,” Wolford said of Stanley. “He’s got a bright future. For his career he’s got to [be able] to play guard and center, if he has aspirations of wanting to play in the National Football League.”

The former 4-star prospect has appeared in 25 games, including 13 starts, for the Gamecocks.

MORE: Want this roundup in your inbox every morning? Sign up here!

Peach State prospects

South Carolina welcomed a number of 2019 prospects from Georgia to Columbia on Saturday for the Gamecocks’ spring game, including five 4-star recruits:

  • Georgia’s No. 9 ranked player Jaylen McCollough, safety (Powder Springs)
  • No. 16 Keiondre Jones, guard (Hogansville)
  • No. 27 Warren McClendon, tackle (Brunswick)
  • No. 28 Curtis Fann, defensive end (Twin City)
  • No. 34 Kalen Deloach, linebacker (Savannah)

The Gamecocks’ 2019 class, rated No. 8 overall in the 247Sports composite team rankings, includes just one commit from Georgia: 4-star weak-side defensive end and Atlanta native Rodricus Fitten.

Come on down

Fitten was another prospect in Columbia on Saturday, doing his best to try and bring fellow Georgia native Fann into the fold.

“He just talks to me, tells me to come there, that’s all,” Fann said with a laugh. “It isn’t really much of a pitch.”

The Emanuel Country Institute (Twin City, Ga.) standout is rated as the No. 261 overall prospect for 2019, according to the 247Sports composite. He boasts additional offers from Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida and more.

Two ways

South Carolina is recruiting McCollough to play on both sides of the ball.

“When I talk to coach [Will] Muschamp, he said he wants me to play both ways, running back and defensive back, that stood out to me,” McCollough said. “Other than that, I feel South Carolina is on the come up and they’ll be one of the teams to mess with in the SEC.”

The 247Sports composite tabs the Powder Springs, Ga., native as the No. 76 overall prospect for 2019.

Ouch

Despite losing to North Carolina 11-3 on Tuesday night in Charlotte, South Carolina’s baseball team did leave the Queen City with at least one highlight.

First-year Gamecocks coach Mark Kingston showed incredible toughness and poise as he took a baseball to the chest during an interview on SEC Network.

South Carolina (17-12 overall, 4-5 SEC) heads to Lexington, Ky., on Friday for Game 1 of a three-game set against No. 9 Kentucky.

Craving more Chicken & Waffles? Get your fix with previous versions here.

The post South Carolina’s offense after spring practice; Gamecocks’ QB targets for 2019 appeared first on SEC Country.

Daniel Sweeney – SEC Country

Categories
Featured

South Carolina’s 2019 QB targets; Gamecocks seniors to watch in 2018

South Carolina recruiting-Garrett Shrader-quarterback

Welcome to SEC Country’s Chicken & Waffles, your daily dish for all things South Carolina Gamecocks football, basketball and more. Miss a previous edition? Find every edition of SEC Country’s South Carolina Gamecocks Chicken & Waffles right here.

Looking forward

The South Carolina Gamecocks have their eye on a number of quarterbacks in the 2019 recruiting cycle, including 3-star signal callers Ryan Hilinski and Garrett Shrader.

“Among the offered prospects, Shrader could be most likely to end up with South Carolina, but Mississippi State is certainly in the mix, too. But Hilinski is set to get his first look at the school this weekend,” SEC Country’s Hale McGranahan writes.

South Carolina has offered six 2019 quarterbacks thus far, with 4-star prospect Taisun Phommachanh being the highest rated of the bunch, tabbed No. 107 overall in the 247Sports composite.

Eyes open

As South Carolina prepares for spring football, who are the Gamecocks upperclassmen that fans should track? The Big Spur’s John Del Bianco picks five seniors to watch, including cornerback Keisean Nixon.

“Nixon didn’t play much on defense as a junior college transfer last season, but when he did, he found the football,” Del Bianco writes. “The California kid had a pick-six against Arkansas and another pick against Clemson.”

The junior college transfer finished 2017 with 8 total tackles, 1 fumble recovery and 2 interceptions, returning 1 for a touchdown.

‘A great coach’

Class of 2020 defensive end and South Carolina target Jacolbe Cowan was among those prospects in Columbia in January for the Gamecocks junior day.

“With coach [Will] Muschamp, he’s a real good coach, a great coach, actually … South Carolina’s real cool,” Cowan told The State’s Matt Connolly. “Lance Thompson, the defensive line coach, we have a great relationship. We talk all the time, not just about football, but about things outside the field, academics, family, things like that. He’s a really great coach.”

The Charlotte, N.C., native already has offers from Alabama, Georgia, LSU and more.

MORE: Want this roundup in your inbox every morning? Sign up here!

Weekend finale

After winning the first two games in the series by a combined score of 21-2, the South Carolina baseball team dropped the series finale 4-2 against Charleston Southern on Sunday.

The Gamecocks are 6-2 overall, with a game against Furman on Tuesday, then the annual three-game set against Clemson starting Friday.

Through eight games, junior infielder LT Tolbert leads the Gamecocks at the plate, batting .500, with 2 home runs, 1 triple, 9 runs scored and 8 RBI.

Still climbing

On the other diamond, the No. 24-ranked South Carolina softball team extended its winning streak to 12 games on Sunday with a 15-0 win over Lehigh.

The highlights were two Gamecocks grand slams, hit by senior Tiara Duffy and freshman Jana Johns.

South Carolina improved to 15-1. The Gamecocks return to Columbia on Wednesday to play Duke for the first time in program history.

Count me in

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster is the latest to request an apology from Missouri athletic director Jim Sterk for his comments about South Carolina women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley.

Staley filed a defamation lawsuit against Sterk last week for comments he made about her following an incident between the two programs during a game on Jan. 28.

Ending on a low note

With senior forward A’ja Wilson out with vertigo, the No. 7 South Carolina women’s basketball team fell to No. 15 Tennessee 65-46 in the team’s regular-season finale on Sunday afternoon in Knoxville, Tenn.

The Gamecocks finished the regular season 23-6 and enter the SEC Tournament as the No. 2 seed. The tournament begins Wednesday in Nashville, Tenn.

Craving more Chicken & Waffles? Get your fix with previous versions here.

The post South Carolina’s 2019 QB targets; Gamecocks seniors to watch in 2018 appeared first on SEC Country.

Daniel Sweeney – SEC Country