basketball Edit

I've Got Five On It: Prospects with a lot on the line this season

Gregory Jackson
Gregory Jackson (

It’s not just the college basketball season that sits on the brink of tipping off. High school games are already under way in some areas of the country and with that comes the chance for prospects from coast to coast to improve their recruiting stock.

This week in I Got Five on It, our Rob Cassidy explores five players for which the season ahead carries extra importance.


Florida Man: 2021-22 college basketball season preview

2022 Rankings: Rivals150 | Team | Position

2023 Rankings: Rivals150



WHY THE SEASON AHEAD IS IMPORTANT: Jackson’s star has risen significantly in the past six months. In fact, some here at Rivals see him as a contender for the No. 1 spot in his class. So while that discussion has already begun behind closed doors, what he does as a junior will ultimately determine how far such talks progress.

Already ranked as a five-star prospect, Jackson shined in a recent game against a Montverde Academy squad stocked with high-major talent, scoring 27 points and grabbing seven rebounds. His current No. 10 ranking is starting to look a bit too low, but how high he rises will be determined in the months ahead.

North Carolina and South Carolina are thought to be two of the major players in his recruitment.


WHY THE SEASON AHEAD IS IMPORTANT: Pate posted some impressive numbers last year, averaging 18 points 6.3 rebounds as a freshman at Dallas’ David W. Carter High School and was named newcomer of the year by the Dallas Morning News. That was at a 4A high school in Texas, however, making our in-person sample size on the talented guard small.

Pate will play his sophomore season at California’s Prolific Prep, which plays a national schedule. Those that are yet to see Pate in person will get their chance in the coming months, as the 6-foot-6 Pate will showcase his talents against other high-major prospects all season.

Pate already holds offers from Arizona, Houston, LSU and Texas A&M but could see his stock soar if he performs well at his new, high-profile school.


WHY THE SEASON AHEAD IS IMPORTANT: After missing nearly a full year due to a foot injury, Gibbs-Lawhorn is healthy once again and ready to remind people why he built a reputation as a nationally relevant prospect. The No. 39 player in the class of 2023 has taken part in a few smaller camp events since healing this fall but it’s the season ahead that will prove he’s back to 100 percent.

Purdue, which stayed in close contact with the point guard while he was sidelined, seems to be the most involved with his recruitment for the time being. Things on that front stand to become more crowded, however, as the four-star guard proves he’s back to his old self as a junior.


WHY THE SEASON AHEAD IS IMPORTANT: Cruz’s recruitment has been totally reset and it’s difficult to tell which way the wind is blowing. The five-star wing was once seriously considering both North Carolina and Auburn, before those scholarship offers went to other prospects. So while it’s not as though Cruz lacks options, what he does this season may determine which schools decide to press for his commitment down the stretch.

Oklahoma, DePaul, Georgia and Washington all kicked the tires on Cruz following his decision to reopen his recruitment, but it’s unclear which of those programs intend to get serious. If Cruz has an impressive start to the season at upstart Donda Academy, he could see a number of major programs rush into the picture.


WHY THE SEASON AHEAD IS IMPORTANT: At 7-foot-3, Bol has the size to be a big-time recruit. That said, he’s been in the States for less than a year and the sample size on his game is small at best. And while his high school doesn't play the truly national schedule of some other programs, there will be some big games in which the South Sudan-born prospect can make waves.

Bol runs the floor well for a prospect of his size and impacts games as a shot-blocker, so he’ll spend the years ahead answering questions about his hands and his ability to add the weight necessary to score consistently on the inside. The big man oozes potential, so there will be plenty of eyes on him in the year ahead. He already holds offers from Missouri, Kansas State and Illinois.