Cassidy's Takeaways: No. 1 and No. 2 face off at Midwest Mania
WESTFIELD, Ind. -- Day two of MADE Hoops Midwest Mania provided a showdown between No. 1 and No. 2 in the class of 2022, as second-ranked prospect Jalen Duren led his Team Final squad to a comfortable victory over top-ranked Emoni Bates and his Bates Fundamentals team.
Bates finished the contest with a game-high 30 points on a high volume of shots and looked like the best player on the floor in spurts. Duren, however, had a larger impact on the contest as his dominant rebounding, tough defense and passing complemented his 16-point effort.
Following the game Duren said he intends to trim his list of college options in the immediate future, saying he will release his revised list before the end of the weekend.
Kentucky seems like a good bet to make Duren’s list, as he says he intends to take a visit to Lexington when the dead period expires. He also mentioned what he called “strong relationships” with Michigan’s Juwan Howard and Villanova’s Jay Wright.
“I like all those guys. They’re all saying the same thing pretty much, but we’re building relationships. All the coaches have all been pretty cool.”
2023 Rankings: Top 30
DILLON MITCHELL’S STOCK CONTINUES TO SOAR
Mitchell, whose long frame is filling out nicely, seems to get stronger and more skilled by the month. He’s long been known as a bouncy, hyper-athletic wing with the ability to stretch the floor. On Saturday, however, the 6-foot-8 forward showcased his worth as a defender, doing an impressive job keeping No. 1 overall prospect Emoni Bates in check for the duration of a game Mitchell’s Each 1 Teach 1 team won rather easily. He followed that up later in the afternoon with another impressive defensive effort, stifling five-star Brandon Miller.
“I think I did good on [Bates],” Mitchell, whose defense seemed to absolutely frustrate Bates at times, said of his effort. “The main focus of our game was to stop him from scoring 30 or whatever he usually does. I think we did well.”
Mitchell, who is in for yet another bump in ranking when things refresh next month, has been in recent contact with Florida, Florida State, Vanderbilt, Georgia, Auburn and Ole Miss but is yet to schedule a post-dead period visit. He intends to trim his list and choose five official visit destinations in the coming months.
PITT OFFFER COULD IMPACT JACKSON’S RECRUITMENT
Three-star guard D.J. Jackson helped his stock in Saturday, with a well-rounded, 10-point performance that showcased ball-handling, court vision and am effective mid-range jumper. The Canadian-born prospect holds offers from Mississippi State, Seton Hall, USF and others but it’s a program that’s yet to offer with which he feels closest.
“I’m probably feeling closest with [Pitt assistant] Jason Capel,” Jackson said. “He’s a cool outgoing guy. He always tells the truth. I just like him a lot.”
They are telling me to just keep working. They are going to watch me a little more and then hopefully offer.
Contact between Jackson and the Panthers' coaching staff has become more frequent in recent weeks, and the standout guard says he feels most comfortable with the Pitt staff. If an offer arrives, it’s likely to make the Panthers the frontrunner.
“I think my game would fit in well with Pitt,” Jackson said. “Their guards are a little like me. They play down hill and score. I feel like I fit in there.”
SYRACUSE PRESSING FOR STARLING
The No. 104 prospect in the class of 2022, J.J. Starling does not lack options. The four-star point guard has a small list of offers that span major conferences. He’s not narrowed his focus and declines to name a favorite, but the Upstate New York-native says he’s in most frequent contact with in-state Syracuse, which seems to have a leg up when it comes to building a relationship with the dynamic playmaker.
“I talk to Syracuse the most. We talk on the phone the most,” Starling said. “We both call each other a lot. Like I said, there’s a lot of colleges that have already offered and talk to me, but I just talk to Syracuse the most probably.”
Starling says he’s loosely familiar with the campus and knows plenty about Jim Boeheim’s program, but may still elect to take an official visit to the in-state program when it’s time to make that call. The Orange seem like a good bet to remain in the mix until the end.
“I’d still go on a visit there because I’m familiar with it but I don’t know everything. I’ve been to a couple games but I haven't had the chance to really see everything else yet.
“I have a lot of friends back at home and around Syracuse. They tell me I can come in and play right away -- be a scorer for them.”
FORMER PURDUE COMMIT MULLING VISITS
Four-star point guard Jameel Brown backed off his pledge to Purdue in late March, when Boilermaker assistant Michah Shrewsberry left West Lafayette to become the head coach at Penn State. Now both programs are in the thick of his recruitment, and Brown says each is likely to a get a visit when the pandemic-induced dead periods ends this summer.
Brown didn’t name an official list of front-runners on Saturday, but the Boilermakers, Fighting Irish, Nittany Lions and Cavaliers seem like good bets to remain in the thick of the guard’s recruitment until the end.