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Bossi's Best: Passing up the Bluebloods to stay home

Trae Young
Trae Young (AP Images)

The class of 2018's No. 3 player Zion Williamson will announce his college decision Saturday. While the South Carolina native has been heavily pursued by traditional hoops powers Duke, Kansas, Kentucky and North Carolina, it's looking more and more like he could stay home and play at either Clemson or South Carolina.

In this week's Bossi's Best, we look back at some of his most memorable recruitments of elite prospects who passed on national powers to stay closer to home and how things worked out.

Jarrett Allen, Texas


Recruitment: Houston, Kansas, Kentucky, Notre Dame and Texas.

Bossi’s memory: Allen was a really interesting kid to speak with off the court and at one point it looked as if he would never make his pick. He took official visits in the fall of his senior year but didn't finally commit to his hometown school until June of his senior year. While most of the talk his senior year centered around the Longhorns and Houston, there were times during the last few months where both Kansas and Kentucky thought they were in great position.

How it worked out: Allen put up nice individual numbers during his lone season in Austin scoring over 13 points and grabbing over eight rebounds per game but the Longhorns suffered through a losing season. Allen now plays for the Brooklyn Nets after being taken in the first round of the 2017 Draft.

Abdul Gaddy, Washington

Recruitment: Arizona, UCLA, Washington.

Bossi’s memory: This one sticks out to me because I can't remember many times where a kid committed to a national power (Arizona), de-committed, committed to it again and then de-committed once more before considering conference foes and electing to stay home. It was another in a long line of cases where you learned to never bet against Lorenzo Romar for a big-time local prospect during his tenure at Washington.

How it worked out: Gaddy was never able to produce at the level of his high school ranking. He played behind current Cleveland Cavalier Isaiah Thomas as a freshman, tore his ACL as a sophomore and then finished his career in Seattle with a pair of solid, but not spectacular, seasons and he's second on the Huskies all-time assists list. Gaddy never made the NBA but still plays overseas.

Recruitment: Connecticut, Kentucky, N.C. State.

Bossi’s memory: If memory serves me correctly, Leslie was both the first and last commit of State's 2010 class. He committed after his freshman year, opened things up before his senior year and for the longest time it looked like Kentucky -- where John Calipari had recently taken over and recruited Leslie's former teammate John Wall -- would end up the choice. Leslie would also visit UConn but after stringing his recruitment well into the spring of his senior season he finally chose to stay home.

How it worked out: Leslie has three pretty good years in Raleigh earning All-Freshman honors in the ACC and All-League honors (2nd and 3rd team) as a sophomore and junior. After scoring nearly 1,400 points and grabbing over 700 rebounds, he declared for the 2013 Draft and wasn't picked. He's played some in the NBA Summer League and preseason, but the majority of Leslie's pro career has been spent overseas.

Malik Newman, Mississippi State

Recruitment: Kansas, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi State and many others.

Bossi’s memory: What I remember about Newman is that many assumed Kentucky would eventually get him even though he seemed to be all over the map when it came to discussing his recruitment. He would keep saying he's going to visit KU and UK and then never set visits. Then Ben Howland got the Bulldogs job in the spring and locked up Newman within a month or so on the job.

How it worked out: Newman scored over 11 points per game as a freshman at Mississippi State but never seemed to mesh with Howland or perform up to lofty expectations. After one season in Starkville he transferred to Kansas where he's currently averaging nearly 11 points, five rebounds and two assists per game as a redshirt sophomore.

Ivan Rabb, California

Recruitment: Arizona, California, Kansas, Kentucky and UCLA.

Bossi’s memory: I first saw Rabb play in the summer before his ninth grade year and he always struck me as a kid that wanted to stay close to home. However, Arizona was always strong, he visited Kentucky and maintained deep into the process that he wanted to visit Kansas and UCLA. Towards the end of his senior year he finally relented that it was down to Arizona and California and after postponing an expected commitment in late March he finally committed to Cal in mid-April.

How it worked out: After a good first season in Berkeley, Rabb was projected as a first round pick and surprised everybody when he elected to return for a second year. After averaging a double-double in his sophomore year, Rabb did declare for the 2017 Draft and was taken in the 2nd round by Memphis. So far, he's appeared in four games as a rookie but has spent much of his time in the G League.

Myles Turner, Texas

Recruitment: Duke, Kansas, Ohio State, Oklahoma State and Texas.

Bossi’s memory: I don't know what it is about Texas and drawn out recruitments, but they seem to have ended up in a lot of them the past few years between Turner, Jarrett Allen in 2016 (discussed above) and Mohamed Bamba in 2017. Anyway, the thought throughout all of Turner's recruitment was that distance would eventually play a factor. At the end of the day, distance and Turner's belief that he could get Kevin Durant-like exposure at Texas sealed the deal for the Longhorns.

How it worked out: Despite coming off the bench for most of his lone season in Austin, Turner averaged over 10 points and six rebounds per game and was named Big 12 freshman of the year. He was taken No. 11 overall in the 2015 Draft and has turned into an effective player for the Indiana Pacers where he's averaging 14 points per game during his third season in the NBA.

Recruitment: Kansas, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech.

Bossi’s memory: Young's recruitment included some others, but at the end of the day it came down to staying home to play for Oklahoma or going to a power like Kansas or Kentucky. I remember hearing all throughout his career that he would leave for a prep school and each year he stayed home. Because of that and the way they could feature him unlike Kansas or Kentucky, I always thought Oklahoma to be a very viable candidate.

How it worked out: The Sooners were viable indeed. As of Wednesday, Young was leading the nation in points and assists and is the current favorite to win National Player of the Year. OU has also been much better than expected with Young running the show.

Stephen Zimmerman, UNLV

Recruitment: Arizona, Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina, UNLV, UCLA.

Bossi’s memory: Zimmerman pretty much hit the blueblood jackpot with his final list and he made sure to take all five of his official visits. At various points in his recruitment, he was thought to be leaning to Arizona, Kentucky and UCLA, but I always thought his strong connection to his family would make UNLV really tough to beat. After having one of the most heavily covered recruitments in the class of 2015, Zimmerman randomly ended things with a late night tweet in April of his senior year that declared his commitment to the Rebels.

How it worked out: Zimmerman averaged over 10 points and nearly nine rebounds per game as a freshman at UNLV before entering the 2016 NBA Draft. He was taken in the second round by Orlando and after playing for the Magic as a rookie is currently playing for the South Bay Lakers in the G League.