Florida Man: Rankings changes, Louisville's future, Creighton's prize
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 from coast to coast. This week, he explores changes that may be coming to the top of the 2021 rankings, breaks down Louisville's latest addition and eats a spoonful of crow (or bluejay) served up courtesy of Creighton.
RANKINGS QUESTION OF THE WEEK: What to do with the top five?
Even though the Rivals150 isn’t set to update again until the first week of 2021, the trio of high school exhibitions aired on ESPN2 late last week gave us a pile of thoughts to ponder from a rankings standpoint. Chet Holmgren’s jaw drop-inducing highlight reel of a game against a loaded Ypsi Prep that included class-of-2022 No. 1 Emoni Bates was plenty to make me wonder if we have the wrong player in the top spot in 2021.
Is Holmgren, who currently ranks third in his class, too lean? Yes. Does he need to beef up before he’s ready to impact the NBA? Absolutely. Fact is, however, that there aren’t that many 7-footers that have ever walked this planet that move like the five-star center. There are even fewer that have handled the ball the way he does.
On Thursday, he casually outshined Bates, a player that has long been anointed as the next big thing, and then had the gusto and confidence to fire off a since-deleted, I-told-you-so tweet in the moments following the final buzzer. If Thursday was a warning shot for what’s to come during Holmgren’s senior year, keeping the Minnesota native out of the top spot might be impossible.
Then, there’s the Jaden Hardy situation. Minutes after Holmgren put the finishing touches on his Mona Lisa, Hardy and his current No. 5 ranking took the floor to drop a relatively clean 39 points and grab seven rebounds on national television. The performance helped remind everyone watching that Hardy is the best scorer in his class and also allowed the Henderson (Nev.) Coronado High School product to stake his claim to the top spot.
There’s no telling how things will shake out between now and January’s update. There are dozens of games still to be played. Still, I’m reasonably confident we have the top five names correct. The order, however, is very much in question.
COMMITMENT OF THE WEEK: Roosevelt Wheeler to Louisville
The biggest recruiting news of the week so far centers around Louisville, which got a nice early-signing-period boost when it landed No. 42 overall prospect Roosevelt Wheeler on Monday afternoon. A 6-foot-10 center out of Virginia, Wheeler joins a deep and loaded Cardinals class that features five commits. Wheeler is the highest ranked of the bunch and now serves as the headliner of a haul that will eventually serve as the foundation of Chris Mack’s roster for some time.
Wheeler’s impact on the defensive end is undeniable. He regularly changes shots and is an absolute nightmare for the opposition on the glass. His offensive game is often overlooked, but the big man is able to bang with anyone in this class. If you’re looking for rebounds and quick put-backs, Wheeler is your guy. Want scoring through contact within four feet of the basket? He’s got that too. There’s a reason he averaged a double-double a season ago, after all.
One of the bigger names to make an announcement during the early period, Wheeler chose Louisville over VCU, LSU, NC State and others. He becomes a part of what is starting to seem like an undervalued haul for Mack and his staff.
WHISPER OF THE WEEK - Bittle an early enrollee for Ducks?
There’s some building buzz around five-star Oregon signee Nathan Bittle and a possible early enrollment. And while nothing is set in stone, it’s starting to seem like Bittle showing up in Eugene next month is a strong possibility.
Oregon recently announced Bittle’s signing and all systems are a go between the big man and the Ducks. Getting the 6-foot-11 center on campus a semester early would certainly be another victory for Dana Altman and company, as Bittle could use the extra semester in the program.
CROW-EATING CORNER: Ty Ty Washington to Creighton
Welp. When you’re wrong you’re wrong, and I was just that about four-star guard Ty Ty Washington, who committed to Creighton over Illinois on Monday. Last week in this very space, I put in a FutureCast for Illinois and confidently wrote some words about following the visits and Washington’s late, self-funded trip to Champaign. .
As it turns out, sometimes you can follow the visits straight off a cliff. That’s what happened here. In the end, Washington’s long-standing bond with the Bluejays’ staff was plenty to hold off Illinois’ furious late push. In the wake of his commitment, Washington told Omaha.com that he’s been texting with Creighton head coach Greg McDermott nearly every day since the pandemic started.
Washington was a bit of a revelation this offseason, as the four-star guard saw his ranking skyrocket after taking his game to the next level and showing well and multiple events. The Bluejays are getting a well-rounded prospect that can score in bunches as well as set teammates up with his improving court vision. The No. 86 player in the country, Washington joins fellow top-100 guard Ryan Nembhard in the Creighton class. The future of McDermott ‘s backcourt appears incredibly strong.