basketball Edit

Starting Five: Class of 2019 stars cutting lists

RANKINGS: 2018 Rivals150 | 2019 Rivals150 | 2020 Rivals150 | 2018 Team | 2018 Position


All summer long, 2019's top players said they would be looking to cut their lists in August. So far, they are delivering. Five-star Nico Mannion was the highest profile senior to cut his list over the weekend and Eric Bossi discusses his cut, a great get for Mississippi State and more cuts and commitments from over the weekend in this week's edition of the Starting Five.

MORE: Four-star Anderson down to five | Shannon commits to DePaul


Give five-star point guard Nico Mannion credit. Since announcing in late July that he would move from the class of 2020 to 2019, he's not wasted much time with his recruitment.

The aggressive, high scoring guard is now down to a final four of Arizona, Duke, Marquette and Villanova.

Mannion hasn't yet set any official dates, but those should be coming in the near future. In the meantime, it's hard not to like Arizona as the favorite in this one. They have targeted Mannion for some time, he's local and going off of everything that I've heard behind the scenes, Sean Miller and the Wildcats are going to be tough to beat.


As Ben Howland and his staff continue their efforts to rebuild the Mississippi State basketball program, recruiting continues to be a strong suit. However, what looked to be a good story regarding 2019's No. 54 player Jaykwon Walton has gone sour.

Over the weekend, the 6-foot-6 wing from Alabama committed to the Bulldogs. However, Monday he reconsidered and has now reopened his recruitment and will continue to explore other options. Prior to committing and de-committing, Walton had considered Memphis, Auburn, Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Louisville in addition to the Bulldogs.

While the loss of Walton stings, Howland and the Bulldogs are still under consideration and have a good thing going on the recruiting trail. Since 2015, Mississippi State has landed 12 Rivals150 prospects and coming off a run to the semifinals of the 2018 NIT Final Four, the rebuild looks to be headed in the right direction.


One of the top big men targets in the Southeast, top 50 power forward Omar Payne took a big step towards making a decision over the weekend.

The bouncy, lengthy and sneaky good interior scorer is now down to a final seven of Central Florida, Florida, Florida State, Louisville, LSU, Ohio State and Texas.

Payne will spend his senior year at powerhouse Montverde Academy and he told me during July that he would like to sign early. Louisville, LSU and Texas watched him closely all summer long and Ohio State jumped into things strong during the summer while UCF could be a darkhorse because of their proximity to Payne's home. But, if I were a betting man I would be putting my money with either Florida or Florida State at this point. Let's see if things still look that way once he sets some visits.


E.J. Liddell was supposed to cut his list down to five on Sunday. Instead the top 40 combo forward announced via his Twitter account that his plans changed.

On the bright side, the change is minimal and he should have a list by Monday afternoon. The only real change is that Liddell said he'll now release a final six instead of five as initially planned.

A skilled combo forward who is quick off of his feet, Liddell has an official visit scheduled for Ohio State on the first weekend of September so the Buckeyes will surely make his list. I would also expect that Illinois, Kansas State and Missouri will make his final group as well.

******Monday update******

Liddell has now released his finalists and instead of going with six, he went ahead with a final five as initially planned. As expected, Illinois, Kansas State, Missouri and Ohio State all made his list and they are joined by Wisconsin.


.... Four-star point guard Damion Baugh took his first step towards a decision on Friday night. The tall and rangy point guard with big potential announced that he is down to a final 10 of Auburn, Florida, Houston, LSU, Miami, Ole Miss, Texas, Vanderbilt, Western Kentucky and TCU.

.... One of the most athletic guards in the country, four-star combo guard Mario McKinney of St. Louis (Mo.) Vashon announced that he is down to Auburn, Iowa State, Kansas State, Louisville, Missouri, Oklahoma State and VCU.

.... Few on the West Coast have as much long-term potential as four-star power forward Antwan January. He's bounced around some and hasn't gotten much of a chance to play under the structure of high school ball, but he's shown ability in the summer and has a group of nine that includes Boise State, Florida State, Kansas State, Nevada, New Mexico, Ole Miss, Texas A&M, Texas Tech and Washington State.

.... I like what Porter Moser and Loyola are doing coming off of their Final Four run in 2018. They are staying true to what got them there and three-star big man Tom Welch is a perfect fit for them. He's a very skilled passer, can make open shots facing the rim and is a good athlete and smart player who fits their style. In Welch and tough wing Paxson Wojcik, they've picked up a pair of guys who have potential to be All-Missouri Valley type players before their careers in Chicago are done.

.... Speaking of players who have potential to do serious damage in the Missouri Valley, Missouri State has landed a potential difference-maker in point guard Dajuan Harris. A product of Columbia (Mo.) Rock Bridge, Harris has good size (pushing 6-foot-2), length and he's a tough-as-nails leader who elevates the play of those around him. He will log a lot of minutes in Springfield.

.... FInally, another mid major that made a notable pickup over the weekend was Grand Canyon who pulled in three-star point guard Jovan Blackshear. He's a competitor, can play fast and did a great job of picking a place where he is a system fit and has the tools to go in and play some important minutes during his career.