Who’s Got Next? Jaylen Brown’s California Dreamin’ & UNC Lands Shooter

Posted by Sean Moran on May 5th, 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.

On Friday night prep small forward Jaylen Brown shocked the recruiting world and committed to California, spurning the likes of Kentucky, Michigan and North Carolina in the process. With his second top-10 commitment in a month, Cuonzo Martin will have all eyes on him as his program makes the leap to become a favorite in the Pac-12 and a contender in the national title race. The 6’7” Brown is considered the No. 1 player in the country by Scout.com and among the top three from both ESPN and Rivals. DraftExpress also lists Brown in the No. 2 spot in their 2016 Mock Draft. The senior is a physically imposing small forward who at 220 pounds will make an impact on the Berkeley campus from Day 1. His playing style is that he prefers to attack the basket off the dribble while his outside shot is steadily improving. The young star is quite often compared to former Arizona star, Stanley Johnson, the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year and All-American who averaged 13.8 points and 6.5 rebounds per game in his lone season in Tucson.

Brown’s recruiting history has been a mixed bag. The Marietta (GA) native took official visits to both Kansas and Kentucky for their Midnight Madness events last fall. He tacked on a UCLA official during the first weekend of November followed by a North Carolina visit for its exciting win over Louisville in January. Instead of cutting his list of college suitors down as his senior year progressed, however, Brown expanded it. After hitting the game-winning free throws in the Georgia 6A state championship, the senior took his last official visit to Michigan in March and then went on a surprise unofficial visit to California immediately afterward. He played his cards close to the vest and kept everyone guessing about where he was headed until the very last minute. He eliminated Kansas, Georgia, and Georgia Tech in the week prior to his announcement, and after his high school basketball banquet last week, he continued a curious trend of some five-star players spurning the college elite in committing to an unheralded Cal program.

California had already received big news this spring when local five-star power forward and top 10 recruit Ivan Rabb decided to stay close to home. The Oakland native became the biggest Bay Area recruit to sign with the Bears since Jason Kidd back in 1991. While Kidd was the local coup of that era, the program’s biggest out-of-state signing came when Shareef Abdur-Rahim selected Todd Bozeman’s Golden Bears prior to the 1995-96 season. Somewhat coincidentally, Abdur-Rahim was a former two-time “Mr. Basketball” in the state of Georgia and a graduate of Wheeler High School as well. One of Shareef’s sons, Bilal Abdur-Rahim, played with Brown on the same state championship winning team and could have helped Brown in consideration of a move out west.

With Rabb and Brown now in the mix, Martin has put together one of the top five recruiting classes in the country. His star-studded first full recruiting class at Cal also includes four-star wing Davon Dillard and three-star wing Tyson Jolly. The quartet of talented newcomers will join high scoring guards Tyrone Wallace, Jordan Mathews, and Jabari Bird, who combined to average 41.2 points per game during an 18-15 season in Berkeley. Arizona has dominated the West Coast recruiting game over the last few years, translating their elite talent into a 31-5 mark in conference play over that period. Rabb’s commitment served notice to the Wildcats and others that California under Martin intends to become a player for West Coast kids; Brown’s commitment suggests that California is poised to battle nationally for elite prospects as well. Next season will be incredibly important for Martin’s team to make the leap to contention so that future players will visibly see what is possible from the state university of the Golden State.

UNC Lands Shooter

Roy Williams struck out on all of his top recruiting targets in the class of 2015 but the Tar Heels’ coaching staff received good news over the weekend when four-star shooting guard Kenny Williams picked UNC over Virginia. Williams had previously committed to VCU in the fall but re-opened his commitment when Shaka Smart left for Texas. A native of Chesterfield (VA), the 6’3” Williams was named first-team All-State in Virginia and shot 44 percent from behind the arc during the 2014 Nike EYBL AAU season. Earlier last week, UNC lost out on its top in-state recruiting target in Brandon Ingram (Duke), followed by Jaylen Brown selecting California. While Williams is not at the level of those players, he will bring some much needed depth and shooting to the North Carolina roster. The Tar Heels were not a very good three-point shooting team, contributing only 18.7 percent of their points from behind the arc (No. 340 nationally) and ranking second-to-last in three-pointers attempted as a percentage of total field goal attempts. The younger Williams will provide a scoring spark off the bench for a veteran-laden squad, and his commitment also serves as a rare bright spot for a program that has been recruiting under the dark shadow of an NCAA cloud this year.

Sean Moran (79 Posts)

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One response to “Who’s Got Next? Jaylen Brown’s California Dreamin’ & UNC Lands Shooter”

  1. Tony Geinzer says:

    I feel the Elite will fall off next Fall and it ain’t even Midnight. To me,These Cals, Mississippi States, and Northwesterns are winning their turf at an alarming rate. My free advice to every program in the USA is to Schedule West and In State/Territory if they want to be Final 4. I feel Scheduling is not to be confused with winning, as if someone scheduled big and went 1-13, that’s their issue.

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