Three-Point Play: Tennessee, B.J. Boston, Jaden McDaniels
BOSSI'S BEST: Prospects on the verge of upward mobility
1. TENNESSEE IS HERE TO STAY
I attended the Tennessee-Florida game last weekend and it was a great opportunity to not just take in a high-level SEC basketball match-up, but also a chance to get an up-close look at a Vol group that has the potential to win it all this season.
Tennessee pulled things out in the end thanks to being one of the few teams in the country that play a complete 40 minutes. Give Rick Barnes credit, as what he has done in Knoxville is among one of the best coaching jobs of the last decade.
While there was talk about Villanova winning the national title three years ago with potentially zero first-round NBA Draft picks, it might be even more impressive that UT achieving such high-level without a single Rivals150 prospect on its roster.
Grant Williams was a second-fiddle to Harry Giles on his travel team; Admiral Schofield was just the same for a non-sponsored team alongside Purdue forward Evan Boudreaux; it took Jordan Bone to the end of his senior season for high-majors to become involved, and many didn’t see it with Kyle Alexander thanks to his newness to the sport.
Schofield could evolve into the next PJ Tucker as scouts are enamored with his physicality. Williams has the chance to etch his name alongside Peyton Manning as an all-time great at the school if he so chooses to return for his senior year.
The rock-solid culture created at Rocky Top is a testament to the the tremendous evaluation and coaching job that Barnes and his staff have done. The Volunteers are legitimate national title contenders. Even if they come up short this year, the Vols are here to stay thanks to the incoming enrollment of five-star Josiah James, to go along with a budding group of returnees featuring Bowden, Lamonte Turner, Jordan Bone and Yves Pons.
2. BOSTON CONTINUES TO SIFT THROUGH PROCESS
While Florida was fighting for a resume win over Tennessee, the Gators were also hosting B.J. Boston, one of the top juniors in the country. Having already taken official visits to Auburn, Duke and Kentucky, the Gators have worked their way into the mix and are now a legitimate landing spot for him.
Once Duke offered Boston last summer and became the first to host him for an official visit, the prevailing thought was that Boston was Durham-bound. While that could still be true, Boston has been rather patient with the process in hearing out what each of his suitors can offer.
By all accounts, Boston and his family were impressed by the Florida visit, especially Mike White and his coaching staff’s down-to-Earth approach, the gameday atmosphere, academic set-up and playing style.
Boston is not close to making a commitment, but the Gators did make a major push over the weekend. If I were betting man, Auburn and Duke will be in it until the very end along with Florida. Alabama, Kentucky and Ohio State have some catching up to do.
3. THE LATEST ON JADEN MCDANIELS
It has been difficult to get a good read on Jaden McDaniels's recruitment. What we know is that he is down to a final five of Kentucky, San Diego State, Texas, UCLA and Washington. However, these finalists have been set for months now and his last official visit was completed in mid-November. Many had assumed a commitment would quickly follow, but things look to be in a holding pattern.
Sources have told Rivals.com that the current plan is for McDaniels to finish out his high school season first before making any sort of decision. This would bring us to possibly mid-March before a commitment might be made.
I have been told that UCLA, despite its coaching change, remains on McDaniels' final list, but the Bruins' chances with him were minimal even before Steve Alford was dismissed. Now, if McDaniels were to decide to put things off until the spring, maybe UCLA and its new head coach could make a late run, though that remains unlikely.
I believe that McDaniels will end up at Kentucky or Washington. The Wildcats had gained some talk of late but either way, don’t look for anything new to come out of the McDaniels' camp for several more weeks.