Three-Point Play: Uncommitted five-stars, Illinois, Trevor Keels
Today in the Three-Point Play, national analyst Eric Bossi recaps where the remaining undecided 2019 five-stars stand in their recruitments. Also featured is another under-the-radar college freshman and a high school sophomore having a monster season in America’s toughest high school conference.
1. WITH ANTHONY EDWARDS OFF THE BOARD, SEVEN FIVE-STARS REMAIN
Jaden McDaniels: Ranked No. 6 overall, the skilled combo forward has immense upside. He’s visited Kentucky, UCLA, Texas, Washington and San Diego State. Like Anthony, he appears to be in no hurry to decide but rumblings have it down to the Huskies and Wildcats.
Matthew Hurt: Ranked No. 7, he’s tripped to Duke, Kansas, Kentucky and North Carolina officially. He could take one more official but that’s looking less likely. Most have favored the Jayhawks for a while.
Precious Achiuwa: Easily the most difficult to read recruitment of any five-star. Ranked No. 16, Achiuwa has yet to take any official visits or give out any clues as to what he might be thinking. Connecticut, Kansas, St. John’s, Georgia, North Carolina and others are chasing.
Keion Brooks: Appearing to be the closest to a decision, Brooks is basically down to Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan State and North Carolina and has seen all of them. Indiana appears to be the slight favorite to land a second in-state five-star from 2019.
Oumar Ballo: An International sensation from Mali, he visits Gonzaga in a week and is also considering Baylor and Arizona. The Zags look to be favorites and he says that he’s college bound, but overseas teams could end up making lucrative offers.
2. ILLINOIS’ OTHER FRESHMAN
The Three-Point Play has been a perfect spot to highlight relatively under-the-radar freshmen. This week I want to shine the spotlight on one making waves at Illinois. But, nope, I’m not looking to discuss former five-star Ayo Dosunmu. Dosunmu has been outstanding as expected, but in a tough season it’s classmate Giorgi Bezhanishvili that has proven to be another bright spot.
The Illini scored wins over Michigan State and Rutgers last week, and the first-year big man was a big part of it. He went for 16 against the Spartans before exploding for 35 (on just 18 total shots) against Rutgers in an overtime win. He’s not the most athletic, he’s not yet the stretch four-man that so many programs crave, but you know what, he’s effective and becoming quite reliable as a post scorer.
When Illinois signed him, I saw Bezhanishvili as a bit of a borderline player and a “why not take a shot on him” kind of guy that could pay off down the road. Earlier in the season, I chalked up his production to bad teams needing guys to lead them in scoring too. Now, though, he’s producing in the Big Ten and looks like he’s a legit find by the Illini staff and an excellent piece to build around for the future.
3. TOP-35 SOPHOMORE HAVING A MONSTER YEAR
Playing in what I believe to be the most competitive high school basketball conference in America, the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference, there’s no time to rebuild, just reload. But, after losing four-star senior Anthony Harris and five-star junior Jeremy Roach to season-ending injuries, expectations were tempered for Fairfax (Va.) Paul VI. Class of 2021 guard Trevor Keels said not on his watch and has proceeded to turn in as impressive a season as any sophomore in America.
Pushing 6-foot-5, Keels is tough, he scores, he defends and he has a knack for stepping up and playing his best at the biggest moments. Currently ranked No. 32 nationally, he’s put together a campaign worthy of Player of the Year honors in the WCAC and while I already held him in high regard as a prospect, I’m really looking forward to seeing how high he can ascend.
Yes, the excellent staff at Paul VI led by Glen Farello has helped and there’s no doubt the emergence of freshman Dug McDaniel as a big-time point guard has been key. But, Paul VI is 15-2 in the WCAC and 20-6 overall in large part because of Keels putting up a reliable 20-plus per night.
Very young for his class, Keels -- who reminds me a lot of Malcolm Brogdon because of his power/skill game-- won’t turn 16 until late August and already holds offers from South Carolina, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest. It’s only a matter of time before more jump onboard and there just can’t be many sophomores who have produced at a higher level against better competition than Keels.