First of three July evaluation periods start today

Jacey Zembal, Editor
The Wolfpacker

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NC State’s four coaches will be out in force today-through-Sunday morning at the various shoe-sponsored events.

The Nike Peach Jam has its top 24 teams in North Augusta, S.C., though this year, they created a loophole to allow 3-13 Nike Phamily to play due to superstar No. 1-ranked senior power forward Marvin Bagley to play. The teams that didn’t qualify for the Peach Jam will be in the Peach Invitational Tournament in nearby Augusta, Ga.

The adidas Gauntlet Finale is set for the Upward Stars traveling team complex in Spartanburg, S.C. The event kicks offs Wednesday, but the majority of adidas’ top programs take the court Thursday.

The Under Armour Association Finals takes place in Cartersville, Ga., which is northeast of Atlanta. The drive is about three hours from Cartersville to North Augusta, and two hours from North Augusta to Spartanburg.

Here are three main story lines for the week for the NC State coaching staff:

1. The adidas Gauntlet Finale will heavily concentrated on watching a handful of teams — Team Loaded VA, Team Loaded NC and Game Elite 2019.

NC State senior combo guard commit Jamie Lewis is expected to play with Team Loaded NC, which is his new traveling team program. He also has switched schools, moving from Atlanta Westlake to Henderson (Nev.) Findlay Prep.

Lewis played one weekend with the Georgia Stars in April, but missed the other three EYBL events due to a groin injury. Rivals.com took a cautious approach to his assortment of missed time and has him ranked No. 85 overall in the class of 2018. Getting some momentum back will start this week for Lewis.

Team Loaded VA features three players with NC State offers — senior center David McCormack, senior power forward Jairus Hamilton and junior center Armando Bacot. NCSU will likely watch every single Team Loaded VA game this month, or at least come very close. Hamilton played with Lewis on the Georgia Stars, but switched to Team Loaded VA, which his his fourth traveling team over the last two years. It might take some time for the No. 51-ranked Hamilton to get situated.

Game Elite 2019 was actually the Georgia Stars 16s program at one point, but they made the move from Nike to adidas and moved up to the 17s division. NC State has offered juniors Josh Nickelberry, Christian Brown and Ashton Hagans, who are all top 50 prospects.

One other top adidas priority could be Nassir Little, a senior small forward from Orlando, Fla., who is ranked No. 28 overall in the class of 2018. He’ll be playing with One Family and his offer list has slowly become the who’s who of college basketball.

NCSU also offered senior shooting guard Luguentz Dort of Canada, who plays with Brookwood Elite. Dort has attended several high schools over the last two years, and is now at Conrad Academy in Orlando, Fla. Rivals.com ranks Dort No. 39 overall in the country in the class of 2018.

2. The mantra could be simple, check out any 6-foot-8 or taller talented players this week. NC State knows it needs bigs and offers could be flying a week from now if the coaches spot some promising tall talent.

NCSU loses center Lennard Freeman and power forward Abdul-Malik Abu to graduation, and sophomore center Omer Yurtseven is always a threat to turn professional, whether it is the NBA or a pro team overseas. As a result, big men will be at a premium. Besides McCormack and Hamilton, NC State has been aggressive in trying to go after Jaylen Hoard of High Point (N.C.) Wesleyan Christian.

The senior power forward from France is ranked No. 29 overall in the country by Rivals.com and is expected to return to the U.S. for the Nike Peach Jam this week, playing for the Chris Paul All-Stars. Hoard is good enough to warrant an NC State coach from being at each of his games in North Augusta, S.C. Four of Hoard’s teammates at Wesleyan have already committed to colleges — senior wing Aaron Wiggins (Maryland), senior center Ian Steere (Creighton) and junior guards Keyshaun Langley and Kobe Langley, who are both going to Virginia Tech.

The Wolfpack coaches will also turn up the heat on Fayetteville (N.C.) Northwood Temple Academy senior center Immanuel Bates, who will be playing with Team Felton at the Under Armour event. His junior teammate, small forward Joey Baker, is another prime target but the Wolfpack don’t have that many Under Armour targets. That could change this week, but Bates, Baker and senior point guard Elijah Weaver of Team Breakdown and senior small forward Saddiq Bey of D.C. Premier are the Under Armour players with NC State offers.

Watching Bey will give NC State coaches plenty of opportunity to evaluate senior power forward Jermaine Harris of D.C. Premier. Rivals.com ranks the 6-8, 220-pound Harris No. 75 overall in the country in the class of 2018, and he fits the profile of what Keatts could be looking for. He officially visited Georgetown thus far, and has at least 14 scholarship offers (12 from programs in the top six leagues).

The Nike Peach Jam could allow the Wolfpack coaches to view BABC senior center Dimon Carrigan, who like Bates is a gifted shot-blocker. The 6-9, 212-pounder attends Cambridge (Mass.) Rindge & Latin, which once produced Patrick Ewing and Rumeal Robinson. Carrigan’s recruitment is in the process of blowing up, with UConn, Miami (Fla.), Georgia Tech, VCU and Washington among his recent offers (all since June 15), giving him 15 in total. Rivals.com ranks Carrigan No. 144 overall in the class of 2018, which is one spot behind Bates. Carrigan is averaging 7.1 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.4 blocks per game in 16 contests for BABC. He had eight blocks once and six blocks in three different games.

3. The areas that set apart coaches when it comes to evaluating a ton of talent usually comes when the 17s games aren’t being played at the Nike Peach Jam. That shows when coaches are truly grinding on the trail.

An example is the time slots when the 16s division is going. A lot of college coaches sleep in, go out for lunch or do whatever, and the gym starts to empty out. It’s a win now pressure-cooker and recruiting for 2019 and 2020 isn’t always desirable.

The 16s division has time slots set up for 8 a.m. Thursday, followed by 9:30 a.m., 3:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. NC State will likely target regional programs such as CP3, Team United, Boo Williams, AOT Running Rebels and perhaps Team Takeover. The Wolfpack have already offered at least seven players from those five programs between 2019 and 2020.

The other event in town where coaches can make some clear statements traditionally is at the Peach Invitational Tournament at Augusta (Ga.) Josey High. The teams that don’t make the Nike Peach Jam end up playing at what usually gets dubbed “the other tournament” because it’s hard to remember its official name year-to-year.

For instance, if NC State wants to continue to recruit Chicago Morgan Park senior point guard Ayo Dosunmu, the Mac Irvin Fire play UPlay Canada at 1:30 p.m., and then against Pro Skills of Texas at 7:30 p.m. Thursday.

If the Wolfpack want to check out junior guard Jalen Lecque of Arden (N.C.) Christ School, the Southern Stampede play Portland Basketball Club at 10:30 a.m., and then the New York Rens at 4:30 p.m. Thursday.

The third main target that could be in the Peach Invitational Tournament could be senior small forward Louis King. Team Final and King will be playing in a play-in game against Nike Team Florida at Noon today, with the losing team relegated to Peach Invitational Tournament.

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