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Texas Longhorns 2017 and 2018 basketball recruiting update

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A look at Shaka Smart and his staff's recruiting efforts for 2017 and 2018.

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The world of college basketball recruiting is a tirelessly revolving door. In order to ensure their place among the recruiting ranks and in the eyes of the recruits themselves, coaches and their staff must display that same tireless pursuit of the guys they hope to one-day suit up on their campus.

Since his arrival on the 40 Acres, Shaka Smart’s recruiting efforts have been well documented and to this point, he’s done an exceptional job of not only landing top-tier talent, but keeping the Texas Longhorns right in the mix, if not atop numerous other elite recruits college interest lists.

In my most recent update, I provided a look at Smart’s 2016 recruiting efforts and where the Horns stand with the top targets in Texas, as well as across the nation. But despite the 2015-16 season still being months away, Smart and his staff have been quite active recruiting for the 2017 and 2018 classes.

Here’s an up-to-date look at the names on Texas’ radar and where the Longhorns stand with these recruits.

2017

Top Texas Targets

First up on the Horns’ big board is Jarred Vanderbilt, a five-star power forward out of Houston’s Victory Prep. The 6’8 forward ranks as the nation’s No. 4 overall prospect for 2017 and leads all Texas high school targets. An athletic big man with loads of skill, Vanderbilt currently holds a Texas offer, along with offers from Kansas, Baylor, SMU and Texas A&M, among others. 247Sports currently lists Kansas as a heavy favorite over Texas for Vanderbilt.

With Texas still without a commitment from a 2017 big man, remaining aggressive in elite in-state power forward P.J. Washington's recruitment is a must. The five-star Prime Prep product out of Dallas ranks as the No. 2 overall recruit in Texas, behind only Vanderbilt. Luckily for Texas, at least to this point, the Longhorns appear to be one of, if not the lone favorite for Washington. Mr. Washington -- P.J. Washington's father -- expressed via Orangebloods, the interest Texas has shown in his son.

"They're pretty active. I talked to the head coach and a couple assistants Mike Morrell and (Darrin) Horn. We hear at least 3 or 4 times a week. They're aggressive,"

Scout also reports Washington having a heightened interest in Texas, California and Michigan State. The five-star forward said he wants to see how Smart's style translates from VCU to Texas, in comparison to the system Rick Barnes employed. Washington currently holds an offer from Texas and took an unofficial visit June 22. Texas leads the way in his Crystal Ball projections.

Smart could be tasked with restocking his backcourt after the next two seasons and R.J. Nembhard is one of the best in-state guards available in 2017.

The athletic Keller (TX) shooting guard ranks as the No. 5 player at this position in Texas and has garnered plenty of attention from the Horns with his April 28 offer being followed by an unofficial visit June 9. Nembhard noted Texas, Oklahoma and California as the standouts in his recruitment. The Longhorns lead the way on the four-star Nembhard's 247Sports interest list.

Another elite in-statet talent on Texas' radar is Isiah Jasey, a four-star power forward out of Killeen (TX). The 6'9 forward picks up an offer from Texas under Barnes' staff, but that offer has been renewed after Smart took over, along with offers from Baylor, Texas A&M, UConn and Houston.

Texas, Baylor and UConn lead in his recruitment.

Yet another Prime Prep power forward holds an offer from the Longhorns, this time in the form of five-star recruit Billy Preston. It's unclear how much mutual interest stands between Texas and Preston, but Kansas stands as the favorite to this point.

Although he doesn't yet hold a Texas offer, four-star Forth Worth (TX) shooting guard Jordon Mylers is on the Longhorns radar and should become a priority before too long.

The bouncy two-guard can put points up in bunches and plays above the rim with apparent ease, which would be an exciting weapon in Smart's uptempo offense. The Longhorns currently hold both of his Crystal Ball projections. I don't expect Myers to be without an offer even for another month.

Victor Bailey, a four-star floor general right in the Longhorns' backyard in Austin (McNeil), serves as the final in-state priority for Texas as of now. Just like Myers, Bailey doesn't currently hold an offer from Texas, but the Horns lead the way with all of Bailey's Crystal Ball predictions. Bailey does hold an offer from Missouri.

Out-Of-State Priorities

Some of the most crucial targets on Smart's 2016 recruiting board are point guards and that's no different for 2017, with Maury (VA) point guard Matt Coleman headlining Texas' out-of-state priorities.

The Longhorns have been quite active in the five-star Norfolk (VA) native's recruitment, as Coleman was the first 2017 target to receive an offer under Smart on April 5. Coleman also took an unofficial visit to Texas. 247Sports lists the Longhorns as the team boasting the most interest from the nation's No. 4 point guard, and his only Crystal Ball projection of 2015 pairs Texas with the flashy scoring guard.

As noted, the Longhorns could be without very many options in the post for 2017 unless Smart makes some significant progress with a few commitments, which makes five-star Georgia center Ikechukwu Obiagu such an intriguing target. At 7'1, Obiagu is a towering presence and an elite rim protector. Texas offered Obiagu June 19 and Georgia's second ranked recruit has taken notice to the great big men that have come through Texas, via 247Sports:

"I just got the offer, so I haven’t done too much research on them," Obiagu said. "But I like them. They produced Myles Turner, LaMarcus Aldridge, Kevin Durant and Tristan Thompson. I’m looking for a school where bigs are being developed, and I can play right away."

Unlikely Out Of State Targets

Smart's 2017 pursuit extend out to the far northeast with Pennsylvania power forward Mohamed Bamba. The five-star big man ranks as the nation's No. 5 overall recruit, and boasts a broad stash of offers, which includes Kentucky, Arizona, Syracuse and Villanova. Jay Wright and Nova are considered the current favorite for the 6'10 forward. Bamba picked up an offer during Barnes tenure, and the offer has been renewed by Smart's staff. Bamba holds 16 total offers to date.

The nation's No. 2 ranked recruit for 2017, Michael Porter, doesn't currently hold an offer from the Longhorns. But the five-star small forward does hold an offer from Big 12 foe Kansas and 247 projects that as his landing spot.

The Missouri product picked up an offer from Kentucky July 11, and also holds offers from Baylor, Duke and Indiana, among others.

In the same boat as Porter, five-star center Zach Brown is without a Longhorns offer to this point. The 7'1, 246-pound Miami native isn't the most skilled big man out there, but has a very soft touch around the rim and plenty of size and upside to build upon. Brown holds offers from Kentucky, UConn, Florida and Kansas, among a large handful of others.

Five-star shooting guard D.J. Harvey does hold an offer from the Longhorns. Out of DeMatha Catholic (MD), Harvey is a top-10 talent in the entire nation and as a result, the skilled shooter has a slew of major offers and that list will only continue to grow. It's unclear how active Texas has been in Harvey's recruitment outside of their April 22 offer, but Arizona seems to be the heavy favorite to this point for the top player in Maryland.

Four-star point guard Trae Young holds a Texas offer, which he picked up April 23, but Duke has been the most active in his recruitment this far and looks to be the early favorite. Also worth noting Young's style favors Tyus Jones, the Blue Devils' most recent floor general quite comfortably.
Hailing from Norman, the Sooners are also active pursuing Young in hopes of keeping the crafty guard from wandering. Young also holds offers from Arizona, Kansas and Oklahoma State, among others. Young said he plans on visiting Texas in August and building upon his relationship with Smart, per 247Sports:

"Our relationship is getting better and better," Young said. "I love coach Smart, we talk quite a bit. I like getting to speak with Coach Smart and listening to him telling me how I can play in his system and one day be a Texas Longhorn." (Hummer)"

Others Holding Offers

Jarrod Simmons, a three-star power forward from Massachusetts also holds an offer from the Longhorns, but Simmons likely is anything but a priority for the Longhorns at the moment. He picked up the Texas offer June 12, to go along with others from VCU, St. Bonaventure and Providence. Smart and his staff will likely see how things progress with 2016 and 2017 big men targets before going all in on Simmons.

Potential Targets To Watch

From what I’ve gathered, the following are recruits on the Longhorns radar who don’t currently hold an offer with little insight on where Texas stands in their recruitment:

· Devontae Shuler: 4-star SG

· Christian Popoola: 4-star CG

· Kodye Pugh: 3-star SF

· V.J. Bailey: 3-star SF

· Jamir Moultire: 3-star PG

· Tristan Clark: 3-star PF

· Davion Mitchell: 3-star SG

· Ethan Chargois: 3-star C

· Devin Gilmore: SF


2018

Top Texas Targets

The Longhorns 2018 recruiting board currently includes two talents ranked within the top 10 of their class, beginning with Houston's Jaedon LeDee.

A well-rounded scorer ranked as the No. 5 player in his class, LeDee is already drawing interest from a multitude of major programs, including Texas. LeDee picked up a Horns offer April 19 and took an unofficial visit June 27. Kentucky is projected as the landing spot for the elite shooting guard, but it's far too early in his recruitment to take any projections to the bank.

Gerald Liddell is the second top-10 talent in his class, hailing from just north of San Antonio. The Cibolo Steele small forward stands as the No. 9-ranked player on ESPN's 25 and despite only having his freshman season in high school under his belt, Liddell has picked up a handful of notable offers, which includes Texas (June 20), Houston, Iowa State and Tennessee. Along with LaDee, Smart and his staff at Texas would love to keep this kid in-state and ultimately suit up in burnt orange.

Unlike many of the others listed, Jalen Preston, a freakishly athletic guard out of Manvel (TX), doesn't have a slew of offers to consider thus far. But his two offers do hail from the Longhorns and the Longhorns former coach currently at Tennessee; Rick Barnes.

If Preston can continue to develop his overall skill set and become more than a dominating slasher living above the rim, he'll grow into a very coveted recruit; one Texas would hope to lure to Austin.

Potential Targets To Watch

From what I’ve gathered, the following are recruits on the Longhorns radar who don’t currently hold an offer with little insight on where Texas stands in their recruitment:

· D.J. Peavy: PG (unofficial visit June 29)

· Jordan Phillips: SG

· Deonte Spencer: PF

· Javonte Smart: SG

· Michael Barber: SF