Rivals Roundtable: Under-the-radar prospects, Trevor Keels, March stars
Each week, Rivals recruiting analysts Rob Cassidy, Jamie Shaw and Russ Wood tackle several topics about college basketball and hoops recruiting. In this installment of the roundtable, they discuss under-the-radar prospects, Kentucky’s chances of stealing a five-star down the stretch and which player may become a household name in March.
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1. Which under-the-radar prospect has impressed you with a recent performance?
Rob Cassidy: I really think Quinten Diboundje-Eyobo can help a high-major program. The French import arrived in America from Montpellier prior to this season and is making waves for the post-grad team at Montverde Academy.
I recently watched him go for 25 points in a victory over a Link Year Prep team that featured a handful of D-I prospects. He scored at all three levels in the contest and showcased some truly elite athleticism in the process. He’s having an incredible season and seems to be adjusting well to the American game. He currently holds an offer from George Washington, but Tennessee and TCU and Georgia are kicking the tires on his recruitment.
Jamie Shaw: I had a front row seat for LJ Thomas scoring 36 points on 15 of 19 shooting from the field against IMG’s post-grad team. Really, that stat line is all I need to say, but in commentating that game, I was able to get a true feel for how smooth, how effortless, how dominant that individual performance was.
The IMG post grad team is the No. 1 post grad team in the country and there was nothing they could do to stop Thomas. He was smooth with his ability to get to his spots and showcased a great pull-up jump shot as well as the ability to knock in shots off movement and off ball reversals. Thomas is currently not in the 2022 Rivals150, but after the film of this game started circulating, he reported offers from Houston, Maryland, Virginia Tech, DePaul and Wichita State. This was an individual performance I will not soon forget.
Russ Wood: I watched Neumann-Goretti 2021 three-star point guard Hysier Miller drop a triple-double of 30 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists against Archbishop Wood and 2021 four-star point guard Rahshool Diggins. It was a helluva performance to say the least. I don’t know if everyone considers Miller under-the-radar or not. He signed with Temple but is not-ranked at this point in time and he put on a show against a top-50 prospect.
2. Do you think Kentucky can wedge its way into the Trevor Keels sweepstakes despite the late offer?
Cassidy: I don’t see it. It’s unwise to ever count John Calipari out of a recruiting battle, but this one might be a bit too uphill even for him. Duke and Villanova have too much of a head start when it comes to luring Trevor Keels. I’ll feel exceedingly dumb when UK lands Keels and somebody with a Wildcat avatar tweets this paragraph at me, but that’s a risk I’m prepared to take.
Shaw: No. This has been a two-team race for a while now, Duke and Villanova. However, Jason Williford at Virginia has done a solid job wedging its way into the next in line of this two-team race. Looking at Villanova, they have DMV ties both to the Team Takeover program and Paul VI and their recent run of success is eye opening. But Duke has maintained itself in a strong position here as they have prioritized Keels from early on. Kentucky moved late on Keels after reading the tea leaves with Hunter Sallis (Gonzaga) and Jaden Hardy (pro) going elsewhere. While Cal has to have some confidence in issuing such a late offer, it feels like the ship had already left the port with regards to Keels' recruitment.
Wood: If my memory serves me correctly, Kentucky has not done too well when it offers late while either Duke or North Carolina had already established good long-term relationships with a prospect and his family. Having said that John Calipari wouldn’t have offered late if he did not believe he has a real shot here. So, the Wildcats are in the sweepstakes but right now I do not believe they will get Keels’ signature.
3. Which current college player only known by hardcore fans could become a household name in March?
Cassidy: Xavier got a huge win over Creighton this weekend and now looks like an NCAA Tournament team. If they’re dancing in March, people will get a chance to familiarize themselves with Musketeers sophomore Zach Freemantle. The 6-foot-9 forward is averaging nearly 17 points and nine rebounds per contest this year and went for 17 and 10 in the critical win over the Bluejays. Freemantle is the type of player that could lead Xavier to a couple of big upset wins this month and announce his presence to the nation.
Shaw: I am going to land on Darius McGhee for my answer here. He is the best player, with unique attributes, on a Liberty team who can become a hot ticket pick to make the second weekend. Ritchie McKay has done a great job building the Liberty program into a mid-major power. Liberty is now 20-5 overall and 11-2, first place, in the A-Sun. McGhee is averaging 14.8 points per game, the only player on the team in double figures, while shooting 40 percent from three on eight attempts per game. Oh yeah, McGhee also carries a 45-inch vertical leap at 5-foot-9.
Wood: Justin Gorham is having himself a heck of a season for the Houston Cougars. Gorham ranks third in the nation in offensive rebounds per game at 4.38 and is the leading rebounder in the American Athletic Conference at 9.5 per game. That’s not all Gorham is good at doing. He is a capable pick-and-pop three-point shooter (40.5 percent on 15-of-37 shooting).