The high school basketball recruiting period in South Carolina gets off to a big start this weekend with the S.C. High School League’s team camp event in Rock Hill Events Center.
The event started Friday and runs through Sunday. It features a top showcase opportunity for players and a chance to play in front of college coaches for the first time in more than a year because of COVID-19. Coaches from South Carolina, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Kansas, North Carolina State, Indiana, Tennessee, Xavier, Georgetown and Virginia Tech were among the coaches in attendance for the first day.
The State caught up with some of the top boys prospects in the state who are ranked nationally to see where they are in their recruiting process. Here is a look:
About him: The Keenan guard is the highest ranked prospect from the Midlands for the Class of 2022 and drew quite a bit of attention from Division I schools like Florida State Kansas, NC State and Alabama, among others, for his first game Friday.
Rivals ranks Gortman No. 13, ESPN ranks him as the 20th-best player in the Class of 2022 and 247Sports Composite has him at No. 22. He averaged 25.3 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.5 assists last season.
Gortman is playing this summer for NightRyders on the Nike circuit.
Recruiting: Gortman took an official visit this month to Florida State and an unofficial visit to South Carolina. He plans to take an official visit to Wake Forest and possibly Miami. He is unsure what other two schools would get his other official visits.
Quote:“The Florida State visit was a really fun experience for me. I got to meet all the coaches and most of the players. South Carolina, I spoke to the coaches and they talked to me about the culture and how big it would be to be part of the program. Their biggest thing is to stay home and put on for my city,” Gortman said. “I don’t really have a timeline. I want to take all my visits and then make my decision.”
About him: The 6-foot-8 forward has been on the recruiting radar since his freshman year and Rivals ranks him as the No. 21 player in the Class of 2022.
Phillips, a two-time all-state selection, can play either guard or forward position and has improved on his shooting skills.
He is playing this summer for Upward Stars Select on the Adidas circuit.
Recruiting: Phillips took an official visit to Clemson earlier this month and will take an official to Ohio State and Wake Forest in the next few weeks. He hopes to schedule an official visit with Florida State as well. That would leave Phillips with one official visit left to take, so South Carolina, Kansas or Florida could get the final one. South Carolina coaches have been in touch with Phillips this week.
Quote: “The recruiting process is going well. Appreciate all the coaches who have reached out to me so far. My recent visit to Clemson went really well. Coach Brownell and the staff showed me a lot of love and hospitality,” Phillips said. “I do plan to keep my recruitment until the live period (end July) is over with. I am looking at possibly announcing sometime before the season starts.”
The Dorman center/forward has been the highest rising prospect over the past several months and is in the top 100 nationally by all the major recruiting services. Clowney will be one of centerpieces for the Cavaliers after playing behind the likes of P.J. Hall, Myles Tate and Jalen Brezeale earlier on in his career.
Clowney averaged 10 points and six rebounds a game last season for Dorman, which played for Class 5A championship.
Recruiting: Clowney picked up an offer from Florida on Friday as recruiting continues to catch steam. He has taken an unofficial to Georgia, hopes to visit Indiana in August and Tennessee this summer and possibly visit with South Carolina and Clemson at some point. Indiana head coach Mike Woodson was there on Friday.
Quote: “After going to Georgia and visited, I want to go visit as many schools as I can because being there in person it gives a different perspective,” Clowney said.
School: Ridge View
About him: The 6-foot-8 forward has emerged as the top-ranked recruit in the state for Class of 2023.
Jackson is No. 20 in Rivals’ latest Top 100 for the Class of 2023 released this week. Coaches were allowed to contact Class of 2023 recruits directly beginning at midnight on Tuesday and Jackson’s phone began to blow up. North Carolina was one of the teams during the stretch to offer him.
Jackson averaged 15.8 points and 10 rebounds last season for Ridge View. He plays in the summer with CP3 on the Nike Circuit.
Recruiting: Jackson took an unofficial to Virginia Tech last week and has ones set up with South Carolina and North Carolina State for this week He also hopes to take an unofficial visit with North Carolina this summer.
Quote: “Me and my dad sat on the couch and just put our phones down and it was like ring, ring. All we could do is just cry and thank God for blessings he has given us,” Jackson said on the first night coaches could contact Class of 2023 recruits. “I didn’t really expect it to be as hectic as it was but I just am very thankful.
“South Carolina, it is home and they are telling me how they are going to use me in their system. I’m not going to be a one position player. The same with Clemson. They had guys like PJ Hall and they are a good program in the ACC.”
School: Gray Collegiate
About him: Like Jackson, the offers started to pour in this week for the Gray Collegiate forward, some of which included Kansas, LSU, Tennessee, Memphis, North Carolina State and Auburn. Those go along with the ones he already has received.
Rivals ranks Gardner at No. 32 on its list for the Class of 2023.
Gardner averaged 9.1 points, 7.7 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game for the War Eagles. He will play this summer for Team Thad on the Nike circuit.
Recruiting: Gardner has taken an unofficial visit to South Carolina and plans to visit Georgetown and Maryland this week.
Quote: “The recruiting is going great. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity. I just have to keep working so it can keep coming and coming,” Gardner said. “... I just got to keep working on my game. South Carolina and Clemson both tell me they like the motor and energy I play with so I have to keep playing with the motor.”
School: Christ Church
About him: Butler is the younger brother of John Butler Jr., who will be a freshman at Florida State this season.
The younger Butler already stands at 6-foot-11 and is ranked by Rivals as the No. 48 player in Class of 2023. Butler averaged 10 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game in helping Christ Church to the Class 2A championship this season.
Butler also was invited to Team USA 16U mini camp earlier this month. He plays in the summer for AOT out of Atlanta on the Nike circuit.
Recruiting: Butler only has offers from Georgia Tech and Wake Forest but has gotten interest from Georgia, Auburn and California. He doesn’t have any unofficial visits planned at this point. He said he will likely take a few in the fall.
Quote: “When coaches do call me, it makes my confidence get higher, knowing that colleges are looking at me,” Jordan Butler said. “My brother went through the whole process so he and my dad are talking me through it every day.”
About him: No national rankings are out yet for Class of 2025 but Scott surely will be on them when they do.
The 6-foot-5 guard was an all-state selection as an eighth grader and averaged 16.5 points, 8.9 rebounds, 3.6 assists and shot 80 percent from the line this season as a freshman.
Scott also was invited to the Team USA 16U mini camp and will return to Houston next month for tryouts.
Recruiting: Clemson is Scott’s only Power 5 offer but many should come in the future. Scott said Florida State and North Carolina have shown interest.
Quote: “Right now I am taking my recruiting slow. I am barely into my high school career so I am just focusing on getting better right now. I will work harder into recruiting the farther I get in my high school career,” Scott said. “... “My goal this summer is to get better as an overall player. I really want to help my teammates be more involved. I like to work on my ball handling better and control of pace.”