The three-week sprint known as the July live period begins on Wednesday, marking the first of three five-day stretches when college coaches travel around the country to observe 2018, 2019 and 2020 prospects. Arguably, the biggest event of the month is the Nike Peach Jam, which takes place over the next five days in North Augusta, South Carolina. Virtually every college program in the country will have at least one coach in attendance; what will they be focusing on?
1. Marvin Bagley III: Because there’s very little debate about who’s No. 1 in 2018, there hasn’t been as much buzz surrounding the top of the class as there has in past years. However, Bagley (No. 1) is the top target for several of the nation’s blue bloods. His final six is UCLA, Arizona, Duke, USC, Kansas and Kentucky, but he’s not anywhere close to a decision. He’s reportedly expected to visit Duke this month, but the Blue Devils aren’t considered the clear-cut favorite to land the star recruit. UCLA and Arizona are hoping to keep him out west, while Kentucky has been in a good position for a long time. Kansas watched him often in the spring, and USC is also making a late push. Expect representatives from all six schools to be at his games this week.
2. Individual matchups: There’s no Andrew Wiggins vs. Julius Randle or even DeAndre Ayton vs. Bagley matchup on the docket, but there’s still some intriguing head-to-head battles to watch. Bagley has a couple of intriguing matchups, notably against five-star Missouri commit Jontay Porter (No. 10) and hard-playing five-star forward Emmitt Williams (No. 12). Two skilled top-10 forwards will go at it when Bol Bol (No. 4) faces Simi Shittu (No. 9), while elite wing forward Cameron Reddish (No. 3) and five-star small forward Louis King (No. 16) could have a matchup against five-star small forward Keldon Johnson (No. 13) if Reddish and King’s Team Final outfit wins their play-in game on Wednesday afternoon. We won’t get a point guard battle between Darius Garland (No. 11) and Tre Jones (No. 19), but Garland goes up against Cole Anthony (No. 11), who is in the conversation for best point guard in the 2019 class. Recent USC commit Taeshon Cherry (No. 20) will get an early start on Pac-12 rivalries when he battles against Arizona commit Shareef O’Neal (No. 18). In fact, the play-in game between Team Final (Reddish, King) and Nike Team Florida (five-star 2019 prospects Vernon Carey Jr., Trendon Watford, Balsa Koprivica) could feature the most five-star prospects.
3. Star power: Expect to see the heavyweights come out for several players this week. Reddish will be a primary target for Mike Krzyzewski and John Calipari, while Jay Wright will also watch him as Villanova remains in the running. Don’t be surprised if UCLA keeps an eye on him, as well. Bol Bol had a long list of coaches tracking him in the spring -- before his rise to No. 4 in 2018. Bill Self and Kansas were on him heavily for the past few years, but Kentucky has made a strong push since the spring. UCLA is also involved. Darius Garland and Tre Jones have interesting recruitments developing. The Blue Devils have courted both players to be their next point guard, but they are unlikely to get both. There’s been some Vanderbilt buzz for Garland in recent weeks, while Indiana watched him closely in the spring. Jones is the younger brother of Tyus Jones, so there are Duke ties there. But UCLA is also targeting him closely, while Minnesota and USC are pushing.