Seven Sweet Scoops: Dakari Johnson Reclassifies, Tyus Jones Cuts List…Posted by CLykins on November 9th, 2012
Seven Sweet Scoops is the newest and hottest column by Chad Lykins, the RTC recruiting analyst. Every Friday he will talk about the seven top stories from the week in the wide world of recruiting, involving offers, which prospect visited where, recent updates regarding school lists and more chatter from the recruiting scene. You can also check out more of his work at RTC with his weekly column “Who’s Got Next?”, as well as his work dedicated solely to Duke Basketball at Duke Hoop Blog. You can also follow Chad at his Twitter account @CLykinsBlog for up-to-date breaking news from the high school and college hoops scene.
Note: ESPN Recruiting used for all player rankings.
1. Dakari Johnson Joins Class of 2013
As if the class of 2013 couldn’t get any better, it just did. Center Dakari Johnson of Montverde Academy (Florida) has announced his intentions to reclassify into the senior class. With the move, he will join Wayne Selden, Noah Vonleh and Andrew Wiggins as the four elite players from the class of 2014 to forego their junior seasons in high school. As Johnson becomes a part of the ever-more-impressive 2013 class, he will be ranked as the No. 12 overall prospect and immediately become the No. 1 overall center. A native New Yorker, Johnson transferred to Montverde from St. Patrick High (New Jersey) following head coach Kevin Boyle, who took the head coaching job there after the 2010-11 season. Due to transfer rules, Johnson was forced to sit out last season. At 6’10″ and around 255 lbs., he is a handful for the opposition in the low post. He uses his strong frame very effectively with a soft touch around the rim. Due to his size, it proves to be a challenging task for defenders to keep him from where he wants to go down low. He is also very active on the glass, carving out space and rebounding the basketball at a high rate. Among those involved with Johnson include Florida, Georgetown, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisville, Ohio State and Syracuse. The Gators were the first school to see Johnson a day after his reclassification. His mother, Makini Campbell, has stated that he will be a spring signee.
2. Tyus Jones Releases List of Eight
The current No. 1 prospect in the class of 2014, Tyus Jones, has narrowed his recruiting list of potential suitors to eight. Baylor, Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan State, Minnesota, North Carolina and Ohio State made the recent cut for the electric point guard from Apple Valley High School (Minnesota). Jones took over the top spot in the 2014 class after the reclassification of Andrew Wiggins. At 6’1″, Jones is an efficient scorer, as displayed at the 2012 Nike EYBL Finals in the summer, where he was the tournament leader in scoring with 25.8 points per game. Capable of carving up any defense with outstanding speed, he exhibits a great understanding of passing lanes on the court. A heady player, Jones is always one step ahead of the opposition, elevating not only his game but his teammate’s games as well. He was also a vital component for the USA U-17 National Team where he helped lead the squad to a gold medal at the FIBA Americas U-17 Championship, averaging 8.5 points and 5.4 assists per game. Outside of trimming his list, Jones has been apart of a rapid discussion in recruiting circles along with classmate and the No. 2 prospect, Jahlil Okafor. Both players have spoken publicly about being a “package deal” in college. Okafor is currently being pursued by five of the eight schools listed by Jones — Duke, Kentucky, Michigan State, North Carolina and Ohio State. Of those schools, the Blue Devils, Buckeyes and Spartans are currently in great shape of landing the top two junior prospects.
3. Syracuse Lands 2014 PF Chris McCullough
Syracuse continued their solid recruiting streak this past week after gaining a commitment from one of the premier players in the class of 2014. Five-star power forward Chris McCullough, the No. 17 ranked prospect, decided on the Orange, becoming the fourth player to do so in the last three weeks. He will join class of 2013 commitments Ron Patterson, B.J. Johnson and Chinonso Obokoh. One of the most naturally gifted talents in the junior class, McCullough will fit in perfectly with a Syracuse team that is traditionally known for developing long and athletic post-men. He excels in running the floor and finishing on the break. He is also effective stepping away from the post and scoring, with range extending out to the three-point line. McCullough will also become a vital asset in Syracuse’s 2-3 zone, given his athletic ability. A similar defensive player to that of former Orange star, Hakim Warrick, McCullough will be able to cover the court with his great mobility to alter various shot attempts. A Bronx native, who attends Brewster Academy (New Hampshire) after a summer transfer from Salisbury School (Connecticut), picked Syracuse to the surprise of nobody over the likes of Kansas, Louisville, St. John’s, UCLA and more. As a sophomore, McCullough averaged 13.8 points per game for Salisbury.
4. Top 40 2014 SG Whitehead Trims List
The No. 40 ranked prospect in the class of 2014, Isaiah Whitehead, has trimmed his list down to nine. The 6’4” combo guard out of Lincoln High School (New York) lists Arizona, Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Rutgers, St. John’s and Syracuse. A lot of chatter has been made recently surrounding the commitment of Chris McCullough to Syracuse as a major factor in where Whitehead picks his college destination. Both players are AAU teammates and have spoken about teaming up in college in the past. If that continues to hold true, then Syracuse would be in the proverbial “driver’s seat.” While releasing his updated list, Whitehead did not reveal a leader at this point in time. Many have thought that the Orange have been out in front, but recent murmurs in recruiting circles indicate that that might not be the case due to the success that head coach Jim Boeheim has had on the recruiting trail in the past few weeks. If Syracuse is slipping a bit, look for St. John’s and head coach Steve Lavin to gain steam in this race. Whitehead has stated that he plans to cut his list down during next summer’s AAU season, with a decision possible around this time in his senior year at Lincoln.
5. Bates-Diop Approaching End of Recruiting Process?
Keita Bates-Diop, the No. 27 ranked prospect in the class of 2014, may be approaching the end of his recruitment. Those rumors stemming from the family of Bates-Diop, who have apparently grown tired of the recruiting process. With that being said, talks of a possible commitment from the 6’7” forward could be likely in the near future. If that were the case, then the schools in the running would be a short list of Big-10 powers, including Illinois, Michigan and Purdue. As of late, Illinois and new head coach Jon Groce has been making a hard, late push in the recruitment for Bates-Diop. An Illinois native, Bates-Diop is viewed by Groce and his staff as a local player they cannot miss on. However, to land a commitment, they will have to contend with a few familiar faces. Michigan and Purdue have been on him from the beginning. If a decision does not come during his junior season at University High School (Illinois), look for him to make a commitment during the first live period in April.
6. Class of 2015 Top Five SF Tears ACL
Unfortunate news came out of the state of Texas over the weekend involving top-five sophomore and two-sport athlete, Mickey Mitchell. Mitchell, the No. 5 ranked prospect in the class of 2015 and a member of both the basketball and football teams at Prestonwood Christian Academy (Texas), tore his ACL during a game last Friday night. The starting quarterback for Prestonwood, Mitchell suffered the injury during the first quarter of the game, in what turned out to be a losing effort against Bishop Lynch (Texas). The injury will cause Mitchell to miss the remainder of the football season, as well as the entire basketball season, a crucial blow for Prestonwood’s basketball team that also includes 6’8” power forward and No. 4 ranked senior Julius Randle. Always a two-sport star, given his potential in basketball he is being heavily recruited by national powers such as Duke, Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina and a host of others. At 6’7”, Mitchell is considered one of the best athletes in the country, even as a sophomore. He gained a ton of notoriety after a successful freshman campaign, which saw him average 10.1 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game while helping Prestonwood to a 28-3 overall record and the TAPPS 5A championship. Surgery to repair a torn ACL usually requires six to nine months of extensive rehabilitation. There is a slight chance that Mitchell could return to AAU play late next summer with a full recovery, barring any setbacks.
7. Kentucky Hosts Top 10 Prospect This Weekend
Just five players in the top 10 from the class of 2013 remain uncommitted. One of those names is 6’7” power forward Aaron Gordon out of Archbishop Mitty High School (California). An exciting and dynamic athlete, Gordon is the No. 7 ranked senior in the class. This weekend, he wraps up his schedule of official visits, as he will take his fifth and final visit to the Kentucky campus, a day after the Wildcats open their 2012-13 season against the Maryland Terrapins in Brooklyn, New York. Also listing Arizona, Kansas, Oregon and Washington, Gordon has been compared to NBA All-Star Blake Griffin, due to his relentless style of play and exciting finishes around the rim. Among the teams standing out from his top five seem to be Arizona, Kentucky and Washington. He has stated that his intentions are to play one year of college basketball before entering the NBA. When speaking about Kentucky, they have had quite a bit of success from that standpoint. The question remains though, will he leave the west coast? Hard to say, but after his final visit, the picture should become clearer. It’s likely that Gordon will not sign early, as he plans to take his time with his forthcoming decision.