Starting Five: Elite 24 review, TCU, Villanova, more
With the skyscrapers of Manhattan looming in the background, five-star Trevon Duval and four-star Isaiah Washington waged an entertaining battle at the Elite 24 on Saturday. Plus, national analyst Eric Bossi examines a very important visitor for Villanova this weekend, TCU's turnaround on the recruiting trail and more in this edition of the Starting Five.
1. DUVAL AND WASHINGTON DUEL AT ELITE 24
Just a week ago, 2017's No. 86 player Isaiah Washington wasn't even invited to the Elite 24. The New York City prospect picked up a late invite and made the most of it as he dropped 36 points in an entertaining one-on-one battle with 2017's No. 5 player and top-ranked point guard, Trevon Duval, on ESPNU Saturday night.
With 25 points and nine assists of his own, Duval led Team Drive to a 140-134 overtime win over Team Clutch. However, winners and losers don't matter in all-star games, and what mattered was Washington and Duval giving a frenzied New York crowd what it wanted to see. They traded crossovers and drives with the Manhattan skyline framing the background.
The performance was a nice way to end a strong summer for Washington, and Duval certainly did nothing to hurt his status as the top floor general in 2017. Minnesota, Syracuse and Seton Hall have been mentioned prominently with Washington, while Duval has to first pick a high school for his senior season before getting down to choosing from among Arizona, Baylor, California, Connecticut, Indiana, Kansas, Maryland, UCLA and Villanova.
While the focus of the game shifted to Duval and Washington late, a few other performances stood out to Rivals.com.
Auburn-bound Austin Wiley did something big men don't usually do in all-star settings: He had a hugely productive game. By staying active and working hard, Wiley produced an impressive double-double of 22 points and 12 rebounds (10 of them offensive). Big man Nick Richards didn't get enough touches for huge numbers, but the 6-foot-11 five-star scored 10 points and grabbed nine rebounds while providing an imposing interior presence. Class of 2018's No. 3 player, Zion Williamson, continued his young Larry Johnson impersonation, going for 23 points and six rebounds without missing a shot. He once again showed an impressive blend of power and explosiveness.
Also earning two of the games six MVP awards – Duval, Washington, Williamson and Wiley were the other four – were North Carolina-bound combo guard Jalek Felton (16 points and four assists) and five-star shooting guard Hamidou Diallo (22 points and six rebounds).
2. TCU RISING
When TCU hired Jamie Dixon during the spring, there was little doubt that it hired a coach with a great body of work. The question was whether he could turn around his alma mater's program, and a big part would be recruiting.
So far, so good.
TCU had only signed one four-star prospect prior to Dixon's arrival in the history of the Rivals150. In just five months he's landed three of them – 2016 point guard Jaylen Fisher, 2017 point guard R.J. Nembhard and 2018 point guard Kendric Davis – and a fourth Rivals150 member headed toward four-star status in big man Kevin Samuel.
Now, the Horned Frogs obviously need to start changing things on the court, but they don't show any signs of slowing down on the recruiting front. Over the weekend, they hosted an impressive group for their elite camp. Among those in attendance from 2017 were soon-to-be Rivals150 shooting guard William Douglas, three-star big man Josh Pitts, three-star wing Shelby Adams and junior college big men Travon Bunch and Ndene Gueye.
From the class of 2018 were in-state guards Nigel Hawkins and Larry Wise to go along with Arkansas big man Caleb Stokes. Then, from the class of 2019, promising in-state prospects such as point guard De'Vion Harmon, wing Quinn Slazkinski, guard Jordyn Adams and wings Cameron Cohn and Jordan Turner were in attendance.
3. WILLIAMS MAKING PLANS
One of the grassroots season's biggest movers from the class of 2018 was point guard Brandon Williams. The 6-foot-1 floor general from Encino (Calif.) Crespi went from unranked to No. 34 in the national rankings, and he may still have some climbing left to do when rankings for 2018 get updated next week.
Since picking up an initial offer from Grand Canyon, things have taken off for Williams, who now holds scholarships from Arizona, Arizona State, California, Connecticut, Gonzaga, Kansas, Loyola Marymount, Nevada, UCLA, UNLV, USC and Virginia.
This fall, Williams will be looking to gather more information, and he's in the process of setting up visits. After taking a trip to UCLA last week, Williams will visit USC on Sept. 10 and Arizona on Oct. 14. He should soon have a visit locked in for UConn.
4. THREE VISITS SET FOR FOUR-STAR FORWARD
So far, the No. 50 player in 2017 has settled on three official visit dates. The 6-foot-7 forward from California will visit Texas (Sept. 30), Oregon (Oct. 7) and Arizona (Oct. 14). Visits for Cal and Maryland should be in place shortly.
For the latter part of the summer, most of the behind-the-scenes talk regarding Lee suggested that Arizona and Cal were out in front. If that's indeed the case, the visits are going to be of the utmost importance for Oregon, Texas or Maryland to catch up.
5. VILLANOVA HOSTS KEY TARGET THIS WEEK
After the 2016-17 season, Villanova is going to have a big hole in its lineup to fill when senior wing Josh Hart graduates. This week, Jay Wright and the Wildcats will host a player that they hope is the guy to replace Hart when four-star wing Jermaine Samuels hits campus for an official visit.
Ranked No. 49, Samuels is an athletic and physically tough wing who leads by example and vocally on the floor. During the past few summers, Samuels has been the heart and soul of Expressions Elite on the Nike EYBL circuit, and he's improved his skill each step of the way.
His visit is scheduled for Wednesday. Samuels has also been linked to Xavier, Indiana, Kansas and Pitt, but recent word has suggested that Villanova has been making a big move with him. If Nova can lock him up, he would seem to be the ideal replacement for Hart and would give the Wildcats a strong start for 2017 if they can pair him with four-star power forward Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree.