While we wait for DU men’s hoops to fill their final scholarship for next season, we can already see an early change in philosophy by head coach Rodney Billups. The changes involve recruiting geography and recruit engagement.
Under Joe Scott, many of DU’s recruits came from Denver suburbs and Texas. Recruits were engaged late in their junior seasons or during their senior year of play. That appears to be changing under Billups. Many people assumed that DU would focus on local prep talent – and they likely will. However, they will be looking outside of Denver as well.
DU recently extended two scholarship offers to players for 2018 when DU has five planned scholarships to fill. These offers show DU focusing on the Kansas City area – a market that Denver has long ignored. These initial offers would indicate that Coach Billups and his staff believe in signaling an early interest in recruits and cultivating those relationships.
6’9″ Yor Anei from Shawnee Mission South High School, Shawnee Mission, Kansas would add needed size to the Pioneers. Center/PF Anei is currently ranked nationally 65th out of 3,101 position players from his class of 2018. Point guard Mario Goodrich is from Lee’s Summit West High School, Lee’s Summit, Missouri. He is an all-around athlete who plays cornerback and wide receiver football and a starting point guard on the basketball team. His football video highlights from this past season are spectacular and display his all-around athleticism as a sophomore. In basketball, Goodrich is averaging 13 points, five assists and five rebounds per game with two more years to grow and develop.
Both Anei and Goodrich play for the KC Run GMC , one of the strongest AAU programs in the country. Both are two star players but with Anei’s size and Goodrich’s athleticism, they are likely to move up.
These early moves seem to indicate that DU will attempt to identify, offer scholarships and land commitments from the best athletes available. When they identify top athletes, they will signal interest early and develop a rapport with the recruits. While they may tap into the local Chauncey Billups Elite Basketball Academy in the future, this indicates that they are going to go into a number of different markets that the Pioneers have ‘traditionally’ ignored. Kansas City is an untapped prep market for the Denver basketball program. With close relative proximity and solid high school basketball programs in KC, DU can offer a private university experience, solid facilities, and a big market experience to recruits.
According to sources, conditioning and weight training will be a key focus for DU’s athletes during the off-season and summer as they prepare for next season and a more up-tempo style of play. All current players on the roster are expected to return.