basketball Edit

Florida Man: Notes from the road, GG Jackson FutureCast

College coaches were back on the road this weekend, as was Rivals.com. I provided coverage from Nike’s EYBL event in Orlando, which can be found here and here. The esteemed Travis Graf was in Indianapolis covering adidas 3SSB, and he details the fallout from that here.

There’s still plenty of news from the weekend left in my notebook, and what better place than here to flesh out some final thoughts and discuss a FutureCast for the country’s top prospect?

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MORE FROM CASSIDY: Top prospects give recruiting advice to coaches

2022 Rankings: Rivals150 | Team | Position

2023 Rankings: Rivals150

2024 Rankings: Top 40

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Layden Blocker goes on scoring binge and sets visits

Layden Blocker
Layden Blocker (Rivals.com)

Already the No. 47 player in the 2023 class, Layden Blocker didn’t have a ton to prove in Orlando, but he made a loud statement anyway and a case to move up the Rivals150 in the process. The 20.8 points per game the guard averaged over the weekend ranks fifth in the EYBL. The real rub, however, is the fact that he did it while going 53 percent from the floor and 54 percent from three-point range.

The four-star guard is set to visit Kansas State on May 6-8 and Maryland on May 13-15. Arkansas, Auburn, Oklahoma and others have also long been major players in the race to land his pledge. After his big weekend, coaches from LSU and Alabama also reached out to inquire.

Blocker’s recruitment feels like it may be on the precipice of becoming even more crowded, as he is quickly becoming a more efficient and well-rounded player.

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Kentucky offers Aaron Bradshaw

Kentucky has targeted a new big in the class of 2023 in 7-footer Aaron Bradshaw, who certainly has the upside to make an impact in the SEC as a freshman. The five-star center moves incredibly well laterally and vertically while also showcasing a soft touch around the rim. Still, it’s his motor and mobility that separate him from the pack.

It warrants pointing out that Bradshaw is a high school and AAU teammate of priority UK target DJ Wagner, a five-star prospect that is seen as a Wildcat lean and also now squarely on the radar of Louisville, which just hired former Duke assistant Nolan Smith. Smith has ties to Wagner and his family after spending some time recruiting him in his former role. Smith and the Cardinals will be formidable, but it was always going to be difficult to beat out John Calipari in the race to land Wagner. It will become even trickier if UK is able to get Bradshaw in the fold.

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Boogie Fland continues to impress

One of the premier guards in the class of 2024, Johnuel “Boogie” Fland possesses an elite nickname and the game to match it. Fland’s talent is nothing new. He’s been in the national spotlight for some time, but he continued to impress in Orlando over the weekend, leading his PSA Cardinals 16U team to a 3-1 record and posting a 25-point performance against a solid Howard Pulley squad in the process.

I had a chance to watch Fland on Friday night, when he didn’t score at that level but still managed to impact the game and lead his team to a victory via his work as a facilitator, defender and a pace-setter. He finished the weekend third in the EYBL when it comes to steals per game and showed off nearly every facet of his versatile game.

Fland already holds offers from Illinois, UConn, UCLA and others.

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LSU re-offers Carl Cherenfant

This seems significant because of how high Carl Cherenfant was on the Tigers when Will Wade was in charge. The Florida-based four-star stopped just short of naming the Tigers his leader on several occasions back then. New head coach Matt McMahon’s decision to quickly reach out seems smart given the situation, as it could help establish some level of continuity when it comes to the Tigers’ pursuit of Cherenfant.

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Florry Bidunga has my attention

I’ve yet to see Flory Bidunga live, but his game left a massive impression on Rivals analyst Travis Graf, who saw him in the adidas 3SSB circuit while I was at Nike over the weekend. Now I can’t wait to get my eyes on the 6-foot-9 big.

Bidunga entered the weekend without a single scholarship offer to his name. The Indiana-based prospect is a good bet to break into the rankings with zeal and to gather a number of scholarship offers in the coming months. The buzz is palpable. According to Graf, schools such as Gonzaga, Purdue, Notre Dame, Bradley, Cincinnati and Indiana reached out about Bidunga following his big weekend in Indianapolis. Bradley may be a surprise school to watch here, as Bidunga has a solid bond with Braves assistant Drew Adams.

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FUTURECAST OF THE WEEK: GG Jackson to North Carolina 

GG Jackson
GG Jackson (Nick Lucero/Rivals.com)

OK, so this FutureCast isn’t new. It’s been in the system for a while, and I’ve been writing about GG Jackson being a UNC lean for a few months. That said, I’m feeling more confident than ever as the final days of the No. 1 overall prospect's recruitment tick away. Duke has seemed like the biggest threat to steal Jackson away from the Tar Heels since South Carolina made its coaching change, but even that threat seems to be fading.

Duke coaches were active at the EYBL session over the weekend but didn’t seem to prioritize seeing or being seen by Jackson, as a team confident in its chances to land him might be. Add in the fact that the Blue Devils already have five high-level commits in the 2023 class and it’s difficult to see Jon Scheyer pulling the stunner here. The Blue Devils are red hot, sure, but their lingering involvement with the top-rated prospect seems like a bit of a heat check at this point.

Jackson himself has discussed being in closer contact with Hubert Davis than he has been with Duke in the last few weeks, and the writing seems to be on the wall. A decision should be coming soon and could take place before or during the upcoming weekend.

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS WITH NORTH CAROLINA FANS AT TARHEELILLUSTRATED.COM