Florida Man: Trey Kaufman; Dayton on a roll; Rutgers commit
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 previews a most unpredictable commitment announcement, makes note of a Rutgers pledge on the rise and explores Dayton’s increasing momentum.
TREY KAUFMAN: Ranking the five contenders
The No. 32-ranked player in the country, Trey Kaufman is set to announce his college choice on Oct. 30. Officially, Indiana, Purdue, North Carolina, Virginia and Indiana State are all options. Unofficially, however, it seems like only a couple of his five finalists have any real shot of landing his pledge. Below, I try my hand at ranking the five contenders.
The ever-so-slight favorite, Purdue likes where it stands with just days to go. Kaufman has been on campus multiple times in both official and unofficial capacities. He also seems to feel comfortable with Matt Painter and his staff. His official visit in September of last year made such an impression that the four-star forward returned on his own dime in February, just before the COVID-19 crisis took hold.
Kaufman to the Boilermakers is by no means a done deal, though, and not much separates the two in-state schools. But somebody has to occupy the top spot. Kaufman’s camp is tight-lipped, so information has to be garnered from other, less reliable sources. The edge is slight.
Truth be told, I wouldn’t bet much of anything on this at the moment. And that says something when you consider I’m a guy that once bet on a game of snooker despite not being totally certain what exactly snooker is.
It’s not going to stun anyone if the Hoosiers win this battle, thus the title of “1B.” Indiana has great luck with prospects from the southern part of the state and has long seemed like the favorite to land Kaufman’s pledge. The in-state target took an official visit to Indiana last year, which certainly helps IU’s cause. Indiana was one of the first high-major programs to offer Kaufman, so the relationships in place are strong. A week ago, the Hoosiers would have been on top of this list. Indiana and Purdue seem like the real options here, as any other outcome would provide some level of shock.
Kaufman has been on campus at North Carolina, but he wasn’t allowed to meet with coaches while he was there because of the COVID-19 dead period. That probably hurts the Tar Heels. As does the fact that they’re asking a prospect with multiple in-state options to move more than 500 miles away from his family during a global pandemic. The allure of UNC is obvious. But while it’s difficult to count Roy Williams out of anything, he seems to be sitting in a comfortable third here.
Like North Carolina, Virginia got Kaufman on campus during the dead period and was unable to interact with him during the trip. There’s plenty of reason for the four-star prospect to like the Cavaliers. They've been recruiting him since his sophomore year and like to compare him to former first-round pick De’Andre Hunter. That said, they seem to be on the outside looking in for the time being.
5. INDIANA STATE
This seems like a courtesy mention. But, hey, everyone loves an underdog story. Head coach Greg Lansing did an incredible job to even be mentioned in Kaufman’s final five.
ON A ROLL: Dayton
The Flyers grabbed the highest-ranked recruit in program history over the weekend when top-50 prospect DaRon Holmes selected Dayton over Marquette, Cal and Arizona. Head coach Anthony Grant followed that up by grabbing another four-star prospect just days later when Rivals150 forward Kaleb Washington made the call. It wasn’t just another week at the office for a guy who went 14-17 in his first season at the school three years back.
That sub-.500 season feels like ancient history now, of course. The momentum that came with last year’s 29-2 campaign and No. 3 ranking in the final AP poll is clearly compounding. The fact that departed star Obi Toppin will be a lottery pick in this year’s NBA Draft is also making an impact.
Grant has gone 50-14 over the last two seasons, and it’s clear the program won't stall anytime soon. Dayton may not match last year’s wild success in the season ahead, but fans should feel overwhelmingly optimistic when it comes to long-term viability.
MAKING NOISE: Jaden Jones
Rutgers commit Jaden Jones drew rave reviews for his showing at the Wootten Top 100 Camp this past weekend, and the video coming out of the event backs it up. Jones’ size, combined with his ball-handling and range, make him a matchup nightmare. So, while his ability to score has never really been in question he’s clearly becoming a more well-rounded and versatile player.
There simply aren’t a lot of players that can defend the 6-foot-8 wing inside and out. So if the weekend in Texas is any indication of how his senior season will go, the St, Louis-based star will slide into the top 100. The question now becomes: “How high can he rise?”
There was some small measure of misplaced surprise when Arizona landed four-star guard Shane Dezonie on Saturday, roughly 24 hours after the program was presented with its notice of allegations from the NCAA.
But the simple fact is that prospects don’t care nearly as much as fans do about stories such as this. In fact, an investigation means nothing to most recruits. Postseason bans, on the other hand, have a way of wrecking recruiting. But at a time where the NCAA is becoming more lenient than ever when it comes to handing out transfer waivers and multiple college stops are becoming more commonplace, there’s no reason for players to panic until punishment is handed down.
There’s no telling how long this investigation will take, and whether or not it’ll have any impact on Dezonie’s college career is also anyone’s guess. So, some of the “What about the allegations?” questions that stirred up following the news of the four-star’s commitment was probably nothing more than rival fans grasping at straws.