Starting Five: Top Juco players battle, big-time decisions on tap
Today in the Starting Five, which Junior College players drew a handful of NBA scouts to Iowa on Saturday night? Who is looking good to land five-star Earl Timberlake on Monday and could Adam Miller be deciding sooner than expected?
1. TYON GRANT-FOSTER AND INDIAN HILLS EMERGE VICTORIOUS
On Saturday night I made my way to Indian Hills Community College in Ottumwa, Iowa., to watch as Indian Hills hosted John Logan College from Illinois. Ranked No. 6, Indian Hills knocked off No. 4 John Logan 72-63 in a game that featured two players, Kansas bound-Tyon Grant-Foster and Louisville-bound Jayden Scrubb, that many consider to be the two best JC players in the land.
Also in the crowd were Kansas head coach Bill Self and representatives of at least six different NBA franchises, and if we are going by Saturday results, Grant-Foster has the upper hand in the race to be considered the top player in juco ball.
Despite his playing time being severely limited early due to three first half fouls, the 6-foot-6 do-it-all wing put on a show, scoring 22 of his game high 24 points in the second half. He was all over the floor creating space of the dribble thanks to his quickness and wiggle with the ball, he drained four straight three pointers at one point and he ignited the crowd with athletic plays in transition.
Grant-Foster is still raw, he still needs to get stronger and tighten up his ball handling a bit but in speaking to some of the scouts in attendance, he definitely put himself on the NBA radar and appears to be a legitimate NBA prospect.
As for his more immediate future, Kansas has a big-time wing on the way and a guy who should make an immediate impact on both ends of the floor.
2. WHAT IS LOUISVILLE GETTING IN JAYDEN SCRUBB?
This was my second chance to see Jayden Scrubb play after first watching him at USA Basketball's U19 tryouts during the summer. Getting a chance to evaluate him in a highly competitive game situation was very valuable even if he didn't have his best effort.
A big time athlete, Scrubb had a tough night going just 4-for-15 from the floor and he didn't scratch double figures in the scoring column until the final 30 seconds of the game. Rough outing aside, there's lots for Chris Mack and Cardinals fans to like in Scrubb.
With his size and ability to elevate off the floor, Scrubb can get his jumper off against pretty much anybody and he's got a clean release. Shots didn't go down on Saturday night, but I'm not worried there and he looks like he will be a competent jump shooter. He's quick and should be able to be a good defender and will undoubtedly be an exciting finisher in transition.
At least on Saturday night, Scrubb didn't get much done off the dribble and looked like much more of a spot up scorer than a go and create for himself kind of guy.
3. FIVE-STAR EARL TIMBERLAKE SET FOR MONDAY AFTERNOON DECISION
Another five-star prospect will be coming off the board late Monday afternoon when Hyattsville (Md.) DeMatha wing Earl Timberlake announces his college decision.
A physically imposing wing who is among the country's top defenders and a tough finisher off the dribble, Timberlake has visited all of the schools --- Miami, Pittsburgh, Providence, Seton Hall and South Carolina -- that make up his Final Five.
So, where does he land? On Sunday I logged my FutureCast for Miami and that's where most of the people in recruiting circles are looking for him to end up.
4. IS TOP 30 SENIOR ADAM MILLER NEAR A DECISION?
When we last saw top 30 combo guard Adam Miller at USA Basketball in October, the senior indicated that he wasn't likely to sign during the early period. There's a very good chance that could be changing and that we could be seeing news on when he'll decide and where he'll go sooner than later.
With that in mind, I've gone ahead and logged my FutureCast pick for Illinois with Miller. I'll just say that there has been a lot of behind-the-scenes buzz that the Illini have gotten close to locking this thing down and that the most important members of Miller's inner circle are in favor of him staying home.
If Brad Underwood and his staff can lock up Miller on top of last week's addition of top 50 point guard Andre Curbelo, they'll have their future backcourt set and have come up big in a recruiting class where they really needed to make some noise.
5. THOMPSON CUTS IT TO FOUR
Even though he hadn't technically cut his list just yet, we've been considering Kansas, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State as the only four programs with a chance to land Bryce Thompson for a good month or so.
Well, on Sunday the five-star from Tulsa made an actual cut to his list and not surprisingly, it was the Jayhawks, Tar Heels, Sooners and Cowboys who made the cut.
Thompson hasn't yet given an announcement date, but it should be coming sooner than later and for now my FutureCast pick remains with Kansas.