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Cassidy's Takeaways: R1A Classic

Jahki Howard
Jahki Howard (

BEL AIR, Md. – The Inaugural R1A Classic is under way outside Baltimore and the first day of games was headlined by Maryland’s St. Frances Academy coasting to victory over Kanye West’s Donda Academy. Saturday featured a handful of other high-level games featuring plenty of Division-I prospects, however, and’s Rob Cassidy was on hand from start to finish. He provides his takeaways from the day that was in Maryland below.


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2023 Rankings: Rivals150

2024 Rankings: Top 40




A five-star prospect in the class of 2024, Jahki Howard recently uprooted and moved from Atlanta to California to play for upstart Donda Academy. And while the sophomore says plenty of his life has changed since he made the call to switch coasts, one thing hasn’t:

His interest in Texas as a possible landing spot.

“Texas is still near the front because, you know, my favorite player is Kevin Durant and all that,” Howard said following his game on Saturday. “I want to visit Texas for sure and maybe a few others when it comes time for that, but I know Texas for sure.”

The Longhorns offered Howard in September and have held a special place in his recruitment ever since. That said, the class of 2024 prospect is nowhere near making a decision. According to Howard, Kentucky is in frequent contact, though the Wildcats are yet to offer. Florida and Florida State are also early contenders to receive visits down the road.



Tyson Commander
Tyson Commander (

Tyson Commander, whose range is his calling card, will play a post-grad year, making him a class of 2023 prospect but the sharp-shooting combo guard already holds a handful of offers. On Saturday, he managed 26 points including five 3-pointers in a loss to Vertical Academy and discussed his recruitment after the game.

Commander, who reclassified to 2023 this offseason and will play a post grad year next season, hopes to see his offer list while he plays the upcoming summer circuit with Team Durant in the Nike EYBL, but says Pittsburgh and Xavier are currently the schools that stand out.

“Pitt is very very interested and Xavier, too,” Commander said. “It’s mostly those two right now, Pitt plays a lot like my team now. I feel like they could be a great fit. It’s really just kind of like that with Xavier too.”

Pitt is yet to pull the trigger on an offer, but could have an early leg up if they decide to do so, as Commander says he has a bond with Panthers director of scouting Jake Presutti that stretches back to Presutti’’s previous job at Marquette.



Paul Lewis committed to Maryland in September of 2021 but backed off his pledge last June. Now a proverbial free agent once again, the 6-foot-1 point guard is waiting for the market for his services to re-solidify. On Saturday, Lewis earned co-MVP honors for Bishop O'Connell by scoring 12 points to go along with six assists and six rebounds in a loss. Following the contest, he said his recruitment remains in flux.

“To be honest, it’s been pretty slow because a lot of the coaches are looking to see what kinds of scholarships they have after the season and people transfer and all that,” Lewis said, “VCU told me that. So did James Madison. Vanderbilt is looking at me, too, but they have to see what they have. Loyola Marymount, too, Manhattan just offered me, though.”



Dionte Johnson lacks the length to attract a long list of high-major offers, but, make no mistake, the 5-foot-11 point guard can flat out play. Fresh off an impressive performance at December’s Tarkanian Classic in Las Vegas, the Patrick School point guard was back at it again on Saturday, scoring 21 points on 8-for-15 shooting to go along with eight rebounds and six assists in a comfortable win over Pennsylvania's Academy of the New Church. Johnson, who boasts a strong upper body, is a quick-but-smooth ball handler and gifted facilitator with a knack for using his speed in the open court and finishing at the rack. His jumper is improving. And while it still needs work, college coaches are taking notice.

Johnson recently picked up an offer from Coastal Carolina and is also in contact with Oregon State, for which his former AAU teammate Dashawn Davis currently plays. Robert Morris has also offered and remains involved in Johnson’s recruitment.