As 11:59 p.m. Thursday night turned into 12:00 a.m. Friday morning,hundreds, perhaps thousands ofFacebook messages, tweets and text messages were sent out to high school basketball recruits around the country.Thanks to a new rule approved by the Division I Board of Directors last October, men's basketball coaches and assistants were allowed to contact recruits through unlimited phone calls and texts, as well as social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter, beginning Friday.Any recruit who is finishing or has finished his sophomore year of high school is eligible to be contacted, meaning the recruiting classes of 2013 and 2014.The change came as a relief to many of the Division I coaches who had hoped the NCAA would understand the advanced, ever-changing technology that allowed contact to recruits at the click of a button.Twitter and Facebook have allowed just about any person, considered a third party in the recruiting process, to reach out and contact a recruit, which is illegal.While not all coaches are on board with the bombardment of messages and phone calls the teenage prospects will be receiving now on an unlimited basis, it is now a matter of keeping up with the times.The importance of the messages many coaches made to recruits late last night can be debated, but as one Division I assistant coach told CBSSports.com's Jeff Borzello:"We're just trying to do our jobs. If we aren't texting them, someone else is."Many of those recruits were able to speak with each other about which coaches texted which players, as many of them are currently attending the National Basketball Players Association Top 100 Camp.The four-day event is taking place in Virginia, and features some of the best players in the nation, including Simeon's Jabari Parker. The top 2013 recruit changed his phone number yesterday in advance of the barrage of texts he would have received.The other Illinois high school players in attendance include:Cliff Alexander, 6-foot-9 forward, Curie (2014)Billy Garrett, 6-foot-4 guard, Morgan Park (2013)Thomas Hamilton Jr., 6-foot-9 center, Whitney Young (2013)Malcolm Hill, 6-foot-5 guard, Belleville East (2013)Kendall Stephens, 6-foot-4 guard, St. Charles East (2013)Jaylon Tate, 6-foot-2 guard, Simeon (2013)
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The Bulls entered rebuild mode on Thursday night after they dealt Jimmy Butler to the Minnesota Timberwolves. They acquired a pair of guards in Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn, and the No. 7 pick which they used to select Arizona power forward Lauri Markkanen.
But the Bulls opted not to continue adding youth to their roster when they sold their second-round pick, No. 38 overall, to the Golden State Warriors. That pick was Oregon power forward Jordan Bell, who many considered a late first-round prospect.
The move was perplexing for a team that hours earlier had traded away its franchise player to start a youth movement. But VP John Paxson said after the draft that the decision to move the pick was based on team depth, hinting at a significant move the Bulls will make in free agency.
"We had some wings on our board that we had targeted that were the only way we were going to keep that (No. 38) pick, and they went before us. And drafting Lauri (Markkanen), and the fact that we have, Niko’s a restricted free agent we intend to bring back, Bobby Portis, we didn’t want to add another big and that’s really all that was left on our board."
Both Paxson and general manager Gar Forman have said since the season ended that Mirotic, who will become a restricted free agent on July 1, is part of their future plans. The Bulls will be able to match any contract that another team offers Mirotic, and they intend to keep the 26-year-old in Chicago. After Butler's departure, Mirotic is now the longest tenured member of the Bulls. He's been with the team for three seasons.
The wings Paxson may have been referring to include Miami's Devon Reed (32nd overall to Phoenix), Kansas State's Wesley Iwundu (33rd overall to Orlando) or SMU's Semi Ojeleye (Boston, 37th overall). Point guards Juwan Evans (Oklahoma State) and Sterling Brown (SMU) were still on the board and potential options, but the Bulls were set on looking for wing help after receiving point guard Kris Dunn and shooting guard Zach LaVine in the Butler trade.
The Bulls frontcourt depth looks filled, as Cristiano Felicio is expected to return behind Brook Lopez. Mirotic, Portis, Markkanen and Joffrey Lauvergne should make up the power forward depth chart. Opting against using the 38th pick, which Golden State bought for a whopping $3.5 million, also leaves the Bulls with room to add a 13th player in the fall.
"It keeps us at 12 roster spots and gives us real flexibility for our roster," Paxson said. "So we didn’t just want to use up a roster spot on a player that we probably wouldn’t have kept."