I've Got Five On It: Biggest headlines of the week
It’s been a fast and news-filed week on the recruiting front with prospects in the classes of 2021 and 2022 making waves for different reasons. This week in I've Got Five On It, Rivals.com national analyst Rob Cassidy examines the five most important headlines of the week and explains why they transcend recruiting and matter to the larger picture of college basketball.
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Mike Woodson makes a statement
A case can be made that Tamar Bates signing with Indiana is the most important story of the late period. Yes, more important than the No. 1 overall Chet Holmgren choosing Gonzaga. Yes, bigger than whatever ends up happening with No. 3 overall Patrick Baldwin Jr., the nation's top uncommitted player.
What makes Bates-to-Bloomington so intriguing isn’t Bates’ massive upside or really anything to do with him as a prospect. Instead, it’s what his commitment says about the Hoosiers’ coaching hire.
The main question surrounding Indiana’s decision to tag Mike Woodson as the program’s new leader was whether or not the 63-year-old coach with next to no college experience would want to do what it takes to recruit on the sport’s highest level. A few weeks later he answered such questions by landing Bates, a former Texas commit that chose IU over Oklahoma State, Kentucky, Illinois, Washington and others.
One commitment won’t make or break the Woodson Era, but it’s hard to imagine a better start when it comes to putting knee-jerk criticisms to rest. Sometimes lazy narratives are easy to dispel. Bates didn’t land in Woodson’s lap by accident, after all.
Gonzaga lands No. 1 overall prospect Chet Holmgren
The most transcendent story of the week, Chet Holmgren’s decision to play at Gonzaga sure seems like the culmination of the Zags’ decade-long rise from mid-major underdog to quasi-blueblood with a similar recruiting allure of Kentucky or North Carolina.
Holmgren is the highest-rated signee in Bulldog history, topping the mark set by point guard Hunter Sallis’ commitment just weeks ago. The Cinderella narrative in Spokane has long been dead, but the addition of Holmgren feels like another massive pile of dirt on top of its grave.
No longer does Mark Few and his staff need to do more with less, as Spokane is now a destination for top talent. Holmgren’s commitment was simply the exclamation point on a statement the program has been making for a few years.
Dylan Anderson stays home
When Arizona introduced Gonzaga assistant Tommy Lloyd as the program’s next head coach earlier this month, some bemoaned the first-time head coach’s lack of ties to the program or the region at large. Sure, he arrived equipped with a reputation as one of the top international recruiters in the sports, but could he recruit locally?
Less than a week after Lloyd’s introductory presser, four-star center Anderson, an Arizona native, turned down offers from Kansas, North Carolina, Michigan and others to stay in the desert and play for the 46-year-old coach. Nobody knows how Lloyd will fare long term. One commitment is certainly a small sample, but it seems as though his lack of ties to the Southwest or UofA shouldn’t be the subject of much worry.
Efton Reid pushes back his announcement
One of the late period’s most anticipated announcements morphed into the late period’s biggest mystery at the 11th hour, when five-star center Efton Reid pushed his decision back via a tweet from his mother.
Reid had previously announced his intentions to make a public commitment on April 15. The day arrived, and the hours wasted away with no word from the five-star center. Coaches and fans representing Florida State, Pitt, Ohio State and LSU monitored his social feeds and anticipation grew. Whispers connecting the IMG Academy star to both Florida State and LSU seemed to grow in volume and then, at 7:30 p.m. ET, with no warning, the announcement was canceled.
The prevailing thought is that a school made a late push, giving Reid plenty of reason to rethink the decision he had already made. Where things stand now is a bit unclear, but the waiting game continues. Everyone loves a mystery, right?
Ty Ty Washington trims his list
Few players improved their stock more than guard Ty Ty Washington this season, as the four-star prospect established himself as one of the elite scorers in this class. He originally committed to Creighton but backed off that pledge following Bluejays coach Greg McDermott’s suspension for using a racist analogy.
When Washington announced his new top six, which was nearly void of schools he seriously considered before choosing Creighton, it felt like a total reset. Washington will now land at either Kentucky, Arizona, Baylor, Kansas, LSU or Oregon.
Kentucky, Kansas and Arizona feel like the early front-runners here but I wouldn’t stake much of a wager to any of three. Washington likes the big stage, which is why it was a mild shock when he originally chose Creighton. The allure of a blueblood or something blue blood adjacent will likely be too strong to pass up when it comes to commitment No. 2.