This weekend two of the top frontcourt players in the Class of 2005 have made, or appear close to making, some totally unanticipated moves that could dramatically alter their recruitment. In fact, according to information received by Rivals.com, both of these talented young men could create major surprises if they sign national-letters-of-intent on Monday.
The Kentucky Wildcats most definitely are one of the few college basketball programs with the capability of making a telephone call that could cause a top prospect to suddenly change his entire recruiting plans, and make an impromptu visit to their campus.
Proof positive of that occurred this weekend when multi-talented 6-foot-9, 235-pound power forward Leo Criswell, the former standout at Kansas City, Kan., Piper High School, and now attending Coastal Christian Academy in Virginia Beach, Va., cancelled a scheduled trip to St. John’s, and flew into Lexington, Ky., for an official visit.
I spoke with Criswell tonight after he returned, and asked him how his visit went. “It was great. I loved it. Coach Tubby Smith and his staff, and all the players made me feel so welcome, and at home. I was very impressed,” said Criswell.
When asked if he had made his decision, Criswell said, “I think so. I may sign in the next couple of days, maybe tomorrow.”
Rivals.com now predicts that Leo Criswell will become a future Kentucky Wildcat! Of course this is conjecture on our part, and it will not become official until Criswell actually signs the documents, and faxes them to his future college. But, I am confident of my prediction.
Criswell had previously visited Missouri, and UNLV. And, as earlier mentioned, he also had planned to visit the St. John’s Red Storm.
And, then came the allure of the Wildcats, and his quicky arranged journey to Lexington.
It now appears that instead of being shut out during this fall signing period, the Cats will end up with an outstanding young forward prospect, with virtually unlimited potential. Criswell has added 15 pounds since he moved to Coastal Christian Academy, and Coach Walter Webb thinks that Leo will become an impact player at the next level.
Last season at Piper High School, Criswell averaged 18 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists, and made 49% of this three-point attempts. He performed well at the NBPA Top 100 Camp last June in Richmond, Va. And, I rated him the #2 power forward at the Reebok ABCD Camp in Teaneck, N.J., during July. Criswell was outstanding in that camp’s Senior All-Star Game.
His former coach at Piper High School David Hall said, “Leo runs, shoots and sees the court like a guard, but finishes above the rim. He has a huge upside, is very coachable, is a great kid, and man, can he play!”
The other top weekend recruiting story is that 6-foot-10, 245-pound center Kenneth Cooper, Monroe, La., Richwood High School, did not sign, as expected, with Louisiana-Lafayette. And, according to reports received by Rivals.com, in a major turnaround, Cooper is now expected to sign on Monday with Coach Eddie Sutton’s Oklahoma State Cowboys.
Reportedly, Cooper’s mother wanted her son to attend a college close to their home in Monroe, La., and was insistent that he sign with Louisiana-Lafayette. However, Kenneth Cooper had his heart set on becoming a Cowboy, and, it now appears that his mother has given her consent, and both will sign the national letter with Oklahoma State on Monday.
With the possible addition of Kenneth Cooper, rated No.66 by Rivals.com, joining No. 1 Gerald Green, No. 20 Byron Eaton, No. 44 Roderick Flemings, and No. 56 Terrel Harris, The Cowboys, now rated the No. 2 early class, could seriously challenge Duke for top national recruiting honors in the fall signing period.