New York City basketball star Isaiah Whitehead made his Nike EYBL debut over the weekend, and there were plenty of coaches who stopped by to check him out.
Whitehead played with New Jersey Playaz after missing the first EYBL session while competing with a non-Nike team. The 6-foot-4 shooting guard averaged 15.6 points and 6.2 rebounds and helped lead the Playaz to a 4-1 record. They had gone 1-3 without Whitehead during the L.A. session.
The Brooklyn native mentioned Kentucky, Louisville, Syracuse, St. John’s, Minnesota and UCLA as the main schools he is considering. Of those, Syracuse seems to be getting the most attention.
Whitehead hit Twitter last week to deny a report that he would be committing to the Orange over the weekend. He acknowledged that Syracuse is one of two schools recruiting him the hardest but said he has no plans to make a decision anytime soon.
“There’s no No. 1,” Whitehead said. “I think everybody thinks that because my favorite player is (Carmelo Anthony) and I watched Syracuse growing up because of Melo.”
Whitehead said the Syracuse staff is in contact with his mother about three times a week. He praised their style of play, especially on the defensive end. “They have the best zone in the country,” he said.
The other school Whitehead hears from the most is Louisville.
He noticed Coach Rick Pitino under the basket during one of his games and said he thought it was the first time Pitino had ever seen him play in person. Louisville offered Whitehead earlier this spring. After news of the offer broke, Whitehead got a call from U of L star Russ Smith. The two players grew up near each other and played for the same AAU program when they were younger.
“He saw that they offered me, so he just hit me up and said congratulations and it’s a great school,” Whitehead said. “You’ve got to come and play defense.”
He’s also been hearing more from Minnesota and hometown St. John’s, which both came by Whitehead’s school for visits before the end of the open recruiting period last week.
One school on his list that hasn’t offered is Kentucky, which had coaches present for at least one of his games over the weekend.
John Calipari made a trip to see Whitehead play in the state playoffs earlier this year, and he also dropped in to see him work out at his high school.
“He said that he liked tough guards, and I’m a tough guard,” Whitehead said. “I play hard and I can play multiple positions. That’s what he liked about me.”
UK has already offered two shooting guards in the class of 2014 — Rashad Vaughn and Devin Booker. Whitehead is rated by Scout.com as the No. 43 overall player in the class. Of the major recruiting services, Rivals.com has him the highest at No. 19.
Whitehead will concentrate on playing for his new EYBL team the rest of the summer, and then he’ll get more serious about his recruitment. He’s planning a trip to Louisville, but he’s still in wait-and-see mode with UK.
“They still haven’t offered me yet,” Whitehead said, “so I don’t want to get serious about them and use an official (visit) if they don’t offer me. I don’t know yet.”