Sweet Seven Scoops: Top Frontcourt? Izzo’s Top Class, UNC’s Late Night & More…

Posted by Sean Moran on October 23rd, 2015


Seven Sweet Scoops is a weekly column by Sean Moran, the RTC recruiting guru. Once a week throughout the season he will bring you seven notes from the high-stakes world of college basketball recruiting. We also encourage you to check out his contributions at The Intentional Fouldedicated 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.

1. Who Has the Top Frontcourt?

Who has the top frontcourt in college basketball? Gonzaga? Maryland? North Carolina? Kentucky? Iowa State? A debate could be made for a variety of teams, but the most talented frontcourt in terms of future NBA potential exists down in Phoenix where two of the most talented high school players in the country are teammates at Hillcrest (AZ) Prep. First, it was Marvin Bagley III, the top sophomore in the country who left Corona del Sol (AZ) after his freshman year to play at Hillcrest. Then it was Deandre Ayton, who left Balboa Prep in San Diego to do the same. At 6’10”, Bagley is a smooth and skilled lefty forward who is easily the top prospect in the Class of 2018. Ayton, to up the ante, was named as the top prospect in all of high school basketball by Scout. He injured his knee in the spring and had an underwhelming summer on the AAU circuit, but with great size and length, Ayton already has NBA scouts drooling at his physical tools. He put together a 17-point, 18-rebound performance against UNC last year in a scrimmage, and keep in mind that he was only a prep sophomore at the time. Bagley and Ayton still have considerable time to pass in the high school ranks, but if they were on a college campus right now their names would be mentioned among the discussion of the top college frontcourts in America.

2. Locked and Loaded in East Lansing

Tom Izzo currently has two five-star recruits and two four-star recruits committed, giving Michigan State arguably the No. 1 class at this point. It wasn’t all that long ago that Izzo had struck out swinging on three highly regarded Chicago-area players in Jahlil Okafor, Cliff Alexander and Tyler Ulis. The sky seemed to be falling on Sparty then, but Izzo pulled a few trademark March upsets and got the Spartans back to the Final Four last year and ready to contend for another Big Ten title again this year. In this year’s class, Izzo went back to his bread and butter of in-state recruiting. Miles Bridges, a top 10 prospect from Michigan, chose the Spartans over Kentucky and Indiana, and Cassius Winston, a four-star guard, hails from Detroit. Izzo also nabbed five-star Josh Langford, a 6’5” wing from Alabama, and 6’8” four-star forward Nick Ward from Ohio. Langford in particular is the ideal Izzo recruit, given his toughness and style of play. He outplayed several other highly regarded players at the USA Developmental camp during the first weekend of October, and while things were briefly looking bleak for Michigan State one year ago, the future now couldn’t be much brighter.

3. Late Night With Roy

Midnight Madness has occurred for a majority of schools already, but UNC has saved their Late Night with Roy event for this weekend. The Tar Heels will bring in their two 2016 four-star commitments in center Tony Bradley and small forward Brandon Robinson, and their lone 2017 commitment in guard Jalek Felton. Other key visitors include four-star guard Seventh Woods, who is set to choose between UNC, South Carolina, and Georgetown, along with five-star wing Rawle Alkins (No. 20 – 2016) and 6’10” manchild Udoka Azubuike (No. 36 – 2016). Other visitors include several 2018 prospects in Rechon Black and and Keldon Johnson, and even a few 2019 players in Joey Baker and Wendell Moore.

4. Harry Giles: One Visit Left

One local player who will not be at “Late Night With Roy” this evening is Harry Giles. From the time Giles entered high school at Wesleyan Christian (NC) in 2012, he has always been one of, if not the most, coveted recruits in the Class of 2016. In the spring of his freshman year, the likes of John Calipari, Roy Williams, and Coach K lined up to watch his 8:00 AM AAU games. Three years later, Giles is set to visit Duke for his final visit over Halloween weekend. He took his first official visit to Wake Forest in September and then followed that up with trips to Kansas and Kentucky during their versions of Midnight Madness. Regardless of where he ends up, all signs point to the 6’10” Giles making a one-year pit stop in the college ranks before becoming one of the top picks in the 2017 NBA Draft. With a rare combination of both power and finesse, Giles resembles a young Chris Webber and will impact the fortunes of a team from Day 1. It is well-documented that Giles’ good friend Jayson Tatum has already committed to Duke, and it wouldn’t surprise anyone to see him continue the recent trend of one-and-done stars going to Durham. While Giles is spending his senior year at Oak Hill, he hails from the Winston-Salem area and Wake Forest remains a dark horse in the race for one of the top prospects in college basketball.

5. UConn’s California Connection

Kevin Ollie’s latest recruit is senior wing Vance Jackson, a 6’7” forward who is currently spending his senior year at Prolific Prep in California. Ollie has already had great success with 6’8” Daniel Hamilton, another Los Angeles product and last season’s AAC Freshman of the Year, who just happened to play with Jackson while the two were at St. John’s Bosco (CA). Jackson will bring another scoring punch to Connecticut and continues Ollie’s recent trend of recruiting talented four-star players to Storrs. In addition to Jackson (currently ranked No. 49 by ESPN), the Huskies have secured the services of a talented point guard from Georgia in Alterique Gilbert (No. 28) and a lanky power forward from Florida in Juwan Durahm. With one of the top recruiting classes in 2016 already in place, Ollie will look to build for the future by dominating the American and making a return trip to the NCAA Tournament.

6. Jarrett Allen in Lawrence

Five-star big man Jarrett Allen has kept his recruitment tight-lipped to this point, but the 6’10” big man from Austin (TX) is finally starting to take his official visits. He has already visited Notre Dame and will be at Kansas for his second visit over the weekend. Allen also has a planned visit to Kentucky pending, all while new Longhorns head coach Shaka Smart looks to keep Allen at home. Earlier in the month, Allen impressed onlookers at the USA Developmental Camp in showing an ability to run the floor and hit a right-handed hook shot with consistency.

7. Arizona Big Set to Decide

Three-star forward Mitch Lightfoot is expected to make his college announcement over the weekend. The 6’8” Lightfoot won a state championship at Gilbert (AZ) during his junior season and was also previously committed to New Mexico before he re-opened his recruitment in the spring. Bigger schools on the West Coast took notice with Arizona, Kansas, Stanford and Utah jumping into the race along with St. John’s.

Sean Moran (79 Posts)

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