Florida Man: Final thoughts from prep showcase; UK controversy
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 predicts Alabama will land a Rivals150 forward, empties his notebook on a road trip he took last week and takes a look at the latest twist in the saga that is Kentucky basketball.
EMPTYING THE NOTEBOOK AFTER A TRIP TO THE GULF COAST
I spent a couple days in Bradenton, Fla., watching the Sunshine Prep Showcase event at IMG Academy last week. There’s plenty of coverage of the event here and here. Still, there were a few prospects I didn't have time or space to mention, so let’s do that here, shall we?
The St. John’s signee is still becoming more polished. Still, he was an absolute load under the basket on Wednesday and proved to be one of the more prolific rebounders at the event. Stanley lacks elite height for his position, but forwards don’t come much stronger or more energetic than him.
What he’ll be at the college level from a scoring standpoint is a little unclear, as he needs to improve his touch around the rim. That said, he impacts games significantly on the glass, where he’ll outmuscle and outwork almost anyone. He has the better part of a full season to develop from a scoring standpoint before getting on campus, so his progress toward becoming a more complete prospect is certainly something to monitor.
Felton is from a similar mold to Stanley, but stands an inch or so taller and is much more developed from a scoring standpoint. The Arizona State signee made a living on second-chance points last week. The broad-shouldered forward is an absolute bully under the basket. He finished with 18 points in a game against a Skill Factory team that featured a pair of Division I-bound forwards in VCU commit Jaden DeLoach and the emerging Chase McKey. Neither could keep Felton off the boards for any length of time.
A Georgia Tech signee, Kelly scored in small spurts in both games last week, making the majority of his mark from long range. The 6-foot-5 guard was somewhat choosy but efficient from beyond the arc, finishing with five 3-pointers over the course of two games. That said, he defended relatively well on the perimeter, where his length helps him significantly, and didn’t turn the ball over often. The effort could be best summed up as “steady.” I’d have liked to see him create his own shot a bit more often.
FUTURECAST OF THE WEEK: Charles Bediako to Alabama
This isn’t exactly crawling out on a ledge, but every take can’t be shot from a flamethrower. Most who follow recruiting have seen Alabama as the leader for four-star center Charles Bediako for some time, and after talking with the IMG Academy star on Wednesday night, my belief on the subject was reaffirmed.
Bama assistant Bryan Hodgson has a history of landing talented Canadians, and Bediako looks to be the next. There’s a pipeline at work here and it seems to be getting stronger. So, while Bediako spoke highly of Duke and Texas and also mentioned that Michigan signee Caleb Houstan once called to try to recruit him to Ann Arbor, the Tide should feel pretty confident.
KENTUCKY CONTROVERSY OF THE WEEK: The Cam'Ron Fletcher suspension
Things are going about as smooth as sandpaper in Lexington these days. Kentucky is 1-5, its point guard play is a total mess and star freshman BJ Boston seems to still be adjusting to the college game. All this for a team that was ranked 10th nationally in the preseason AP poll. That’s how we got to Saturday, when current Wildcat and former four-star Cam'Ron Fletcher shed some tears at the end of the bench before leaving the area prior to the conclusion of the game. A suspension of sorts followed. And, just like that, a new chapter in the school’s worst start since 1926 was written. Here we go … again.
Expectations are a funny thing. So is playing a season in the midst of a pandemic. This season may or may not be a wash for the Wildcats, but my issue is with trying to hold Fletcher, John Calipari or anyone else accountable for a disappointing and volatile season at time where games are canceled and scheduled like dinner reservations, players are being asked to isolate without pay and preseason practices were limited at best.
The fact that Calipari recruits multiple blue-chip prospects that expect to immediately play big minutes and win big games makes losing a difficult pill to choke down, so things may be going sideways for the Wildcats more quickly than they would for another team. The Fletcher situation could have been handled better, sure, but I’m going to abstain from getting involved with any discussions concerning Calipari's long-term viability or Kentucky’s “culture issues.” The conversations seem silly and trite, given the backdrop against which this season is being played. Sometimes things are exactly as they appear on the surface and the simplest answer is correct. Things in 2020 are chaotic. Everyone gets a mulligan.
Happy Holidays. Here are the top five Christmas songs in human history ranked. There will be no debate because I’ve anointed myself the supreme authority on this subject. Sorry, it’s my column. I make the rules.
1. "Angels We Have Heard on High"
2. "El Burrito Sabanero"
3. "Jingle Bell Rock"
4. "All I Want For Christmas Is You"
5. "Sleigh Ride"