New Louisville men’s basketball Coach Chris Mack’s move to the Cardinals is having an immediate impact on recruits in the Washington area.
Hours after news broke Tuesday that Mack would be signing a seven-year deal with Louisville, the former Xavier head coach was already extending offers to some of the top players in the DMV, including DeMatha junior guard Justin Moore and Paul VI junior guard Anthony Harris. Both of those players held offers from Mack’s staff at Xavier, so the prompt recruiting aftermath of a coaching change was put on display.
“It’s just about having a good relationship with the coach,” said Harris, a four-star recruit with multiple high-major offers. “It’s really no biggie for the offers. I wasn’t worried. It’s just about where I fit in.”
As the coaching carousel continues to spin across the country, colleges’ ties to local players are getting interrupted, creating uncertainty for both schools and prospects. In the case of Louisville, which is also bringing on former Xavier assistant Mike Pegues, a DeMatha graduate, those ties are transferring to another school. At Rhode Island, which saw head coach Dan Hurley leave last week for the same position at Connecticut, the school’s selection of its next head coach could be a determining factor in whether the top prospect in its 2018 class, Rock Creek Christian senior Jermaine Harris, remains committed or opens up his recruitment.
Xavier had a handful of offers out to uncommitted players in the Washington area. None will be sure of their statuses with the school until a new coach is hired there, and not all of them are guaranteed offers with Louisville. But in the cases of Moore and Anthony Harris, certain priorities are put on display early.
“About during the time when [Mack and Pegues] were hearing they were going over [to Louisville], they did tell me that if they went over, I would go over, too,” said Moore, who has known Pegues since his freshman year at DeMatha and received his first college offer from Xavier. “I was told I was one of their main priorities. … It is great to know that coaches actually trust in me.”
Harris’s father received a call from Louisville’s new staff on Tuesday, extending Harris a Cardinals offer. Harris said he has talked with VJ King, a current Louisville sophomore guard who also played for Paul VI, about the Cardinals, so he is “not a newbie” when it comes to his familiarity with the school and competing in the ACC.
“I just want to continue working on my game and be the person they would want as a program,” Harris said.
Jermaine Harris, a 6-foot-8 senior forward who ranks in ESPN’s Top 100 prospect rankings and was The Washington Post’s All-Met Player of the Year this season, can request a release from his signed letter-of-intent to Rhode Island following Hurley’s departure.
On Monday, Harris tweeted a show of support for the Rams, writing, “Rhode Island is home now baby,” but his status is still unclear. His coach at Rock Creek Christian, Chris Cole, said that Harris wouldn’t make a final decision until the next Rhode Island head coach is named. Associate head coach David Cox, who has ties to the Washington area and was Harris’s main recruiter, is believed to be a candidate to replace Hurley as the leader of the program.
Other recruiting news:
— Gonzaga senior forward Allin Blunt has committed to U-Mass. Lowell, he confirmed to The Post on Tuesday. Blunt told U-Mass. Lowell Coach Pat Duquette of his decision on Saturday morning after taking an official visit to the school late last week. Blunt averaged 9.5 points per game during his senior year at Gonzaga after not joining the varsity team until his junior year. Blunt said he is expected to play a lot as a freshman. The 6-foot-6, 190-pound forward was previously seen as one of the top unsigned seniors in the area.
“It was hard, but I looked at it as motivation to finish the season off strong,” Blunt said.
–Wise senior guard Sherwyn Devonish was offered by New Hampshire on March 20. The offer from the Wildcats was Devonish’s eighth. The 6-foot-1, 190-pound guard averaged 18.4 points per game during his senior season, leading Wise to a 20-5 record. Devonish was named to The Post’s All-Met second team.
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