Who’s Got Next? Blakeney to LSU & UNC Gets a Felton…

Posted by Sean Moran on January 8th, 2015


Who’s Got Next? is a weekly column by Sean Moran, the RTC recruiting guru. Once a week he will bring you an overview of what’s going on in the complex world of recruiting, from who is signing where among the seniors to discussing the recruitment of the top uncommitted players in the country. We also encourage you to check out his contributions at The Intentional Foul dedicated to recruiting coverage and analysis. You can also follow Sean at his Twitter account @Seanmohoops for up-to-date news from the high school and college hoops scene. If you have any suggestions as to areas we are missing or different things you would like to see, please let us know at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

Note: Scout.com used for all player rankings.

Antonio Blakeney Looks to Turn LSU into a Basketball School

LSU is a football power that signs five-star recruits and churns out top 10 recruiting classes on a routine basis, but with last week’s commitment from five-star guard Antonio Blakeney, the Tigers’ basketball program is now joining in on the fun. It’s rare for LSU to nab five-star recruits in roundball, much less two five-star recruits in one class, but LSU now has commitments from the No. 5 ranked shooting guard to go along with forward Ben Simmons, one of the top high school players in the country.

Blakeney, a 6’4” shooting guard, originally committed to Louisville after taking in the school’s first ACC football game but subsequently backed out of the decision. Rumors then ran wild that the Floridian, who played on a Nike-backed AAU team, had de-committed due to Louisville’s contractual shoe affiliation with Adidas. Blakeney went on to visit three different SEC schools — LSU, Kentucky and Missouri — before choosing the Tigers based on his relationships with head coach Johnny Jones and assistant coach David Patrick. In an interview with Scout.com, Blakeney discussed his reasoning behind the decision: “Kind of just the story and the plan he [Jones] has for the program, period. LSU is a football school and he’s trying to change it to a basketball school. Last few years he’s gotten good players like Jarell Martin and Jordan Mickey. All those guys were top 80 in the country.”

While Blakeney has clearly developed a bond with the coaching staff in Baton Rouge, he will also gets to play with his AAU teammate and friend, the uber-talented Simmons. The Australian-born senior is a 6’8” small forward who came to the United States during his freshman season and played with Blakeney last summer on the Nike EYBL circuit. Possessing the ball-handling skills of a guard, Simmons is listed as the first or second-best player in his class by every recruiting publication. He committed to the Tigers more than 15 months ago in large part because Patrick is Simmons’ godfather and had played professionally with Ben’s father in Australia.

LSU is off to a strong 11-2 start this season, but if sophomores Mickey and Martin both return to school in 2015-16, the Tigers could put together a formidable lineup featuring talent, size and athleticism that hasn’t been seen in Baton Rouge since the Shaq/Stanley Roberts/Chris Jackson era. Such a team would have the potential to challenge Kentucky in the SEC and nationally. The high-scoring Blakeney would add an immediate scoring punch to a team that likes to run but sometimes struggles offensively. He has already this year broken an Oak Ridge (FL) High School record with 63 points in a game and has put together numerous 20-, 30-, and 40-point games as a senior. It’s a rare occurrence to see a pair of players with the talent of Simmons and Blakeney heading to a school like LSU, but with a few lucky breaks it could be the basketball team that is king on the Baton Rouge campus next season.

Another Felton In Chapel Hill

Jalek Felton Will Join His Uncle's Alma Mater in 2017

Jalek Felton Will Join His Uncle’s Alma Mater in 2017

Ten years ago All-American point guard Raymond Felton was busy leading the Tar Heels’ fast break for the 2005 National Champions. Last week, Raymond’s nephew and five-star sophomore, Jalek Felton, announced his decision to follow in the family footsteps and head to Chapel Hill. Despite being nearly three years away from setting foot on the Dean Dome’s sky blue floor, Felton’s commitment provided a shimmering ray of light to the UNC fan base. While Raymond was a pure point guard, the 6’3” prep sophomore is viewed as a combo guard although he possesses some of the best passing skills in the high school game. He is currently ranked No. 6 in his class and was named to the MaxPreps All-Freshman Second Team last year after averaging 21.9 points per game for Mullins (SC) High. This year, Felton has boosted his scoring numbers and recently scored 51 points in the famed Beach Ball Classic.

In the last week of the July recruiting period two summers ago, UNC head coach Roy Williams veered away from his primary targets in the 2013 and 2014 classes to take in a few viewings of an eighth-grade Felton. As a ninth-grader, Felton attended the 2013 “Late Night With Roy” with his friend and fellow UNC target Harry Giles, and after countless visits to the Dean Dome to play and watch pick-up ball last summer, Felton received the scholarship he coveted in mid-November, and committed to the Heels just over a month later.

With the academic scandal currently lingering over the Tar Heels’ program like a black cloud, there is no doubt that recruiting has gotten more difficult for Williams. He struck out on the majority of his top targets in 2015, with only three-star forward Luke Maye locked up so far. And while he is heavily involved with a number of five-star recruits in the Class of 2016, it is nice to know that UNC already has a commitment from one of the most talented guards in the 2017 class — someone who has aspirations of hanging his jersey in the Dean Dome rafters right next to his uncle’s.

Sean Moran (79 Posts)

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