HARBOR CITY, Calif. -- If given the option, most BCS coaches would elect to be in California for the Boost Mobile Elite 24 game Saturday. It's a target-rich environment for uncommitted seniors of elite status, especially big men.
There are nine key frontcourt targets in the game, and we aren't talking about run-of-the-mill rotation players. These guys affect the recruiting plans of nearly two dozen programs nationwide. They're here to play a pickup game on ESPNU at 7 p.m. ET Saturday.
Mitch McGary (Chesterton, Ind./Brewster) sat in the HAX Athletic Club with an ice pack and a knot on his left ankle. Under normal conditions, this would require at least a week of rest, but McGary isn't a normal kid. He tested it Thursday in a scrimmage -- briefly -- with the hope of rolling out on Saturday for the game. He'll hobble out there, but for how long is to be determined, just like some of his official visit dates.
The No. 3 player in the ESPNU 100 begins his fall process with an official visit to Michigan the weekend of Sept. 3. The Wolverines have an AAU teammate of his and are the lone Big Ten program on his list. Upon conclusion of the Michigan trip, McGary slides over to Lexington, Ky., for a Sept. 3 unofficial visit to Kentucky. McGary said he would like to return to Lexington later for an official visit.
The power forward's schedule doesn't cease after Kentucky. The North Carolina Tar Heels play host to the native of Indiana Sept. 6-7. Once that visit wraps up, he'll navigate 8 miles of Tobacco Road for an official visit to Duke Sept. 8-10. His parents are traveling with him to each school on the visit list.
McGary visited Florida in August and Maryland in June; he plans on taking officials to both. As for his Elite 24 experience to date, well, he's already made a highlight reel. During a midnight scrimmage run, No. 2 NBA pick Derrick Williams threw down a dunk right on top of him. The video made the requisite rounds on You Tube.
"I don't care; I was there for a reason," McGary said, almost looking forward to one day having a chance to even the score.
Ashley to set visits soon
Brandon Ashley (Oakland, Calif./Findlay Prep) is an elite player. To him, everything that surrounds his situation is gravy.
"I never expected it to get this big," Ashley said. "Ever since it got this big, it's bigger than what I would have expected."
Ashley likes the attention -- for now -- as he's billed as one of the movers and shakers in the senior class.
Oregon, Arizona, UCLA and Kentucky are his finalists. Part of the well-stocked Oakland Soldiers program, he'd have a former Soldier with him at every one of the schools on his list, so that's not a component of his decision.
"Really it's team chemistry where I feel I can come in and be a part of the family, get a national championship, and work toward the next level," Ashely said.
He's had the most active contact with the three Pac-12 schools thus far.
Carter settles on seven
It's not quite a top five, but it is a six pack plus one. Robert Carter (Thomasville, Ga./Shiloh) is down to Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Kentucky, Maryland and Rhode Island. Following the Elite 24, he'll begin setting up visits.
Rhode Island's inclusion on his list is curious. The other six schools are ACC or SEC programs, and he's in that area of the country. Then there's Rhode Island, up north from the Atlantic 10. "It's loyalty," Carter said. "From the beginning, they put it in my head that they can develop me and help me get to the next level." For now, the Rams are a long shot but they've got a chip in the game. Can they survive the five?
Jefferson guilty of missing calls
The NCAA is going to amend recruiting rules sometime this year. There's a growing sentiment that it might repeal the rules against texting prospects. Many feel that's a good idea. Amile Jefferson (Wynnewood, Pa./Friends Central) is not one of those people.
"I think it would be worse if they could text," Jefferson said. The slashing forward, who led the NBPA Top 100 Camp in scoring, already feels pressure to return missed calls and he has a manageable list.
"I've been good but sometimes I'm busy and miss calls. I'm in the gym and miss them," he said. Jefferson feels bad but also feels pressure to manage his time; sometimes he isn't able to call coaches back.
Jefferson begins school Sept. 12, so he can kick off the visitation process after the 12th. Ohio State is on the docket for the weekend of Sept. 24. He will set up a trip to Connecticut. Villanova, Maryland, Temple and Stanford are in the mix, along with NC State. Jefferson visited the Wolfpack in August.
Dave Telep is the senior basketball recruiting analyst for ESPN.com. His college basketball scouting service is used by more than 225 colleges and numerous NBA teams. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Don't forget to follow him on Twitter.