Starting Five: List cutting season is here
Summer basketball is over and it's list cutting season. Over the weekend, several big-name prospects, including five-star prospect Isaiah Todd made cuts to their school lists. In this week's Starting Five, national analyst Eric Bossi covers some of them along with a mention of a 2021 prospect hitting the visit trail.
1. FIVE-STAR ISAIAH TODD CUTS IT TO FIVE
Two weekends ago at USA Basketball, five-star forward Isaiah Todd told me he was very close to cutting his list from 10 to a final five. At the time he indicated that Kansas and Kentucky (both schools that he's planning official visits with) and most likely Michigan would make his final list.
Not only is Todd down to five schools, he's also going to be attending a new school for his senior year after announcing that he'll play his senior season at Raleigh (N.C.) Word of God -- the alma mater of former Rivals.com No. 1 ranked John Wall.
The next step will be locking in dates for visits and Todd has been planning to visit UK and KU for a while now could indicate that the Wildcats and Jayhawks enjoy a slight lead on the rest of the pack.
However, it's notable that Juwan Howard helped Michigan get into a final group despite not being on Todd's initial list of 10 finalists. He's been to North Carolina plenty and Penny Hardaway had 2019's top recruiting class at Memphis in 2019. What I'm getting at here is that I just don't see any favorite at this point and I've not really heard much to lead me believe that one school or another has any tangible lead as Todd's recruitment starts the home stretch.
2. SEVEN LEFT FOR PUFF JOHNSON
After being ruled ineligible for his senior season in Pennsylvania (he began playing varsity before starting high school), skilled wing Puff Johnson is still in the process of deciding where he will play his final season of high school ball, but he's taken a step towards figuring out where he will play his college ball by cutting his list.
There are plenty of good cases to be made for any of Johnson's finalists, but I'm ready to try and chew through the fat and take a crack at who the true players are in this one. The way I see it, I expect that Arizona and North Carolina may have the best shot at landing him. Johnson's brother was just turned into a lottery pick under Roy Williams at UNC. But, Cam Johnson was also picked by the Phoenix Suns, putting family close Tucson where Sean Miller has known the Johnson family for a long time.
Can somebody else pull of a bit of a surprise by making themselves true players for Johnson?
3. MARK WILLIAMS DOWN TO SEVEN, LOOKING TO MAKE VISITS
Also cutting his list to seven is seven-footer Mark Williams. Currently ranked No. 51 in the senior class, Williams is going to move up the rankings next month and he's also on the move for his senior year. The Virginia native will attend Bradenton (Fla.) IMG as it loads up again.
Williams has already taken an official visit to Stanford and the Cardinal are very much involved. Sources also told me that during the summer Williams promised UCLA his next visit and sure enough he'll visit there officially later this month. Ohio State and Duke are also in there quite strong and he's been to Raleigh to see NC State before unofficially.
If pushed, I would say that Duke and UCLA may hold the edge here. But, I wouldn't yet put him the lock category for anybody recruiting him.
4. FIVE FOR IMPROVING POWER FORWARD LANCE WARE
Like Williams, Lance Ware had a big summer and will move up in the next 2020 rankings update. Ware also cut his list, but moved his down to a slightly more manageable group of five.
Making the list for Ware are Kentucky, Miami, Michigan, Ohio State, and Providence.
Ware has touch, he can run and he's starting to fill out his slender frame. He's the kind of guy that can be a fit in any style. Since landing a Kentucky offer, it's been widely speculated that the Camden (N.J.) product will ultimately land up playing for John Calipari in Lexington.
However, I wouldn't expect a commitment until Ware can at least visit Lexington and if one of the others can do something to separate themselves. Ohio State will get the first chance at the end of August.
5. 2021'S WHITT HAS VISITS SET
Finally, I'll get away from the list cuts for a guy who theoretically has lots more time to make decision than the others in this week's Starting Five, Carter Whitt. The rising junior point guard is a top 50 player in the 2021 class, but there has been speculation that he could ultimately end up graduating to enroll in 2020.
That won't be determined for a bit, but in the meantime Whitt is taking some trips.
He'll begin with an unofficial visit to Florida on Monday. He's also got trips scheduled to Ohio State in a few weeks and then to Boston College on Labor Day weekend.