basketball Edit

Starting Five: Nike Extravaganza and more

This week in the Starting Five national analyst Eric Bossi has some thoughts from the Nike Extravaganza. Plus, a blueblood offers a local prospect and a high profile transfer visits a program his father starred for.

MORE: Coach of the Year and more in Rivals Roundtable

2020 Rankings: Rivals150 | Team | Position

2021 Rankings: Rivals150 | Position

2022 Rankings: Top 75


SKYY CLARK ON FIVE-STAR TRACK

Skyy Clark
Skyy Clark (Matt Moreno/GOAZCATS.com)

When we released our 2022 rankings on Friday, we not only expanded from a top 50 to a top 75, we went from 10 to 16 five-star prospects. It looks like at least one more player in that class is on his way to five-star status.

I was in Southern California over the weekend and spent time at Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei for the Nike Extravaganza and in my first game of the weekend got to see point guard Skyy Clark. Based on what I saw from him, Clark is well on his way to five-star status the next time we update rankings.

Ranked No. 17 overall in his class, Clark's skill and feel for the game is off the charts. He's starting to fill our his frame a bit, looks to have gotten a little taller and just makes those around him better. He can score with ease at the rim, in transition and is a dangerous jump shooter but his passing and the way he sets up defenders with hesitations, changes of speed and a high level ability to read what's available to him before making decisions.

Arizona, Arizona State, Georgetown, Kansas, Memphis, Michigan, Texas Tech, UCLA, Vanderbilt and others have already offered. Kentucky hasn't offered yet, but the Wildcats have been very active and Clark told me that he'll be taking an unofficial visit there next week.

REVISITING MWANI WILKINSON

Last week, I wrote about the rapid improvement of four-star senior wing Mwani Wilkinson of Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman and how I felt any high level program looking for a tough athlete should at least check to see if they can get involved.

I'm going to say it a little louder for the people in the back. This dude can play and he's just scratching the surface of how good he can be.

Wilkinson was a huge climber in last week's ranking update for 2020 and he could rise again in the final rankings. This time a year ago, he didn't have a single offer but now he's set to pick between LSU, USC, UNLV and Vanderbilt and whoever gets him is going to get a potential stud.

He defends multiple positions, he is developing a dangerous pull-up jump shot and is a big-time rebounder and competitor. He reiterated that he's inching closer to a decision and he is looking more and more like a guy capable of making an instant impact.

BUNCH ONE TO WATCH OUT WEST IN 2022

If what I saw out of Concord (Calif.) De La Salle sophomore wing Chris Bunch at the Nike Extravaganza is what I can expect to see from him down the road, he will very much be in the discussion for the next update to our 2022 rankings.

Bunch is a long and wiry wing with plus athleticism who gildes around the floor with ease and shows potential as a jump shooter. The game looks to come easy to him and he's got good size and a great frame to build on.

He's getting recruited at the high major level and looks like a legit prospect for programs like Florida State, Oklahoma State, SMU, USC and several others who have already offered.

KANSAS OFFERS LOCAL JUNIOR

On Saturday, 2021 shooting guard Tamar Bates of Kansas City (Kans.) Piper took an unofficial visit to nearby Kansas for their win over Texas Tech. By the time he hit the road to head home, he'd received a scholarship offer from Bill Self and the Jayhawks.

A tough and rangy scorer, Bates was another who made a big jump in last week's rankings updates. I've watched him this winter and his improvement as a jump shooter to go along with his ability to get to the rim and natural leadership ability suggest that he still has room to rise in the national picture.

The offer from a blueblood in his backyard could prove to be a good one for Bates, but there's plenty of other competition as he nears the end of his junior season. Creighton, Kansas State, Missouri, Northwestern, Oklahoma State, Wichita State have all offered and his name is heating up in the Midwest.

O'NEAL VISITS LSU

Things didn't work out for Shareef O'Neal like he hoped they would at UCLA. But, the freshman transfer is still young, talented and full of potential.

Where he ends up is still yet to be determined. But, I couldn't help but raise an eyebrow when I learned that he was taking an official visit to LSU.

Baton Rouge is where O'Neal's father Shaquille O'Neal put himself on the national map and the idea of him following in his father's footsteps is certainly newsworthy and could potentially be a fun story to watch.

After a medical redshirt as a freshman, O'Neal is just working his way back into shape and didn't put up huge numbers at UCLA (2.2 points, 10.0 minutes per game). However, at 6-foot-10 or so with athleticism and an inside out game, he's certainly got potential to be a fine addition -- especially if he locks in and commits to consistently playing up to his natural talent level -- for Will Wade or any other college coach.

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