Florida Man: Recruits consider options after Smart's Texas exit
Each week, Rivals national basketball analyst and very own Florida Man, Rob Cassidy, takes readers around the hoops recruiting world, touching on news, notes and developments that relate to prospects and teams from coast to coast.
This week, he looks at the bountiful recruiting fallout from Shaka Smart’s move from Texas to Marquette. He also discusses a pair of prospects on the rise and explores what the future holds for a pair of big-time prospects that have recently found themselves back on the market.
2023 Rankings: Top 30
DECOMMITMENT OF THE WEEK: Tamar Bates says goodbye to Texas
One of the top prospects in 2021 will likely return to the recruiting market, as Texas signee Tamar Bates has asked the Longhorns to release him from his letter of intent on the heels of head coach Shaka Smart’s move to Marquette. Don’t expect UT to put up much of a fight here, because the optics of such a thing would be horrible.
The remaining question is simply: “Where to now?”
The answer to that, however, is unclear. Bates visited Creighton, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Kansas State and Oklahoma State before the pandemic took hold. At the time of his commitment, he had Alabama, Creighton, Iowa State, Kansas, Missouri and Oregon among his finalists. According to reports, Kentucky, Illinois, Mizzou, Washington and Gonzaga have reached out since the four-star reopened his recruitment.
While not the pronounced favorite, Mizzou may be a school to watch here because of its relative proximity to Bates’ Kansas City-area home and the relationship the touted prospect has with the Tigers’ staff. Either way, there won’t be much news on the Bates front this week, as he and his IMG Academy team will spend the next handful of days playing in the Geico Nationals tournament on Florida’s Gulf Coast. A commitment should come in the weeks that follow, should the letter of intent situation be settled.
MORE SHAKA SMART FALLOUT
A four-star prospect in the class of 2022, Anthony Black was taken a bit off guard by Smart’s move to Marquette. On Saturday, the sought-after point guard was asked about the state of his recruitment and made it clear that Texas was the early leader before the changing of the guard in Austin
“For a while, I was really feeling Texas,” Black said on Saturday. “But I don’t know what that’s going to look like now. I have a great relationship with Shaka (Smart), but he’s obviously gone. I’m hearing (Texas Tech head coach) Chris Beard’s name there, and that would be cool. I’m really cool with him.”
Black seems particularly fond of Beard and has long been considering the Red Raiders. It’s not difficult to read between the lines of the four-star guard’s quotes and like the position in which Tech has now found itself.
UNANSWERED QUESTION OF THE WEEK: Does UNC want Jonas Aidoo?
The Shaka Smart-related recruiting dominoes are plentiful. In a move also related to the latest spin of the coaching carousel, four-star big Jonas Aidoo is no longer a Marquette commit. Aidoo backed off his pledge early this week and will once again consider his options. The 7-footer was high on Kansas, NC State, Wake Forest and others at the time of his pledge but he has long had eyes for in-state North Carolina, which has yet to offer him a scholarship.
Roy Williams’ program seemed to be seriously considering offering the top-100 prospect on multiple occasions in the past and now has the opportunity to do so again. It seems likely that Aidoo, a lifelong UNC fan, would choose the Tar Heels if said offer manifests, but there’s no telling if it will. What Williams and his staff decide to do in the weeks ahead will likely determine the direction of the Aidoo sweepstakes.
STOCK UP: Jaxon Kohler and Finley Bizjack
There were plenty of impactful performances at the weekend’s War Before The Storm in Dallas. Some of those efforts came from players that already carry lofty rankings or are firmly on the recruiting radar. Jaxon Kohler and Finley Bizjack, however, did plenty to improve their stock.
Bizjack remains unranked solely because Rivals.com has yet to expand the class of 2023 rankings beyond 30. When that happens, however, expect to see Bizjack’s name. The Texas-based combo guard is a true three-level scorer with impressive length and court vision who has all the tools of a top 100 player. He already lists offers from schools such as Stanford, TCU and DePaul. Wisconsin is thought to be close to joining the fray.
As for Kohler, he holds a three-star ranking as things stand but looked a little better than his current ranking of 132 in the 2022 class over the weekend. A strong, physical double-double machine, Kohler went for 20 points and 16 rebounds in one game this weekend while looking like a prospect that should be a little closer to the top 100 than he is currently. BYU, Texas Tech, St. Mary’s, Arizona and Iowa are all involved with the Utah-based center to differing extents. The Wildcats and Hawkeyes have yet to offer.