Twitter Tuesday: Indiana, Nate Laszewski, UCLA, Iowa State
Classes are back in session at various colleges this week, which will bring more official visits and with visits come commitments. Before things really heat up, we answer a few questions in this week’s #TwitterTuesday, focusing on the current recruiting cycle at Indiana, where things stand with Nate Laszewski, how UCLA answers its frontcourt needs and how Iowa State fills its point guard void.
The biggest winner of the weekend was Indiana as the Hoosiers secured the commitment of Rivals150 guard Robert Phinissee. They defeated a handful of Big Ten powers for the in-state prospect’s commitment, and he should bring shot-making, playmaking skills and toughness to Bloomington.
Where do the Hoosiers go next and what are my initial thoughts of Archie Miller’s first class at IU?
While Phinisee is a sturdy option in the backcourt, I would be surprised if Indiana stopped recruiting Darius Garland. Seeing that he has already spoken openly about playing alongside another point guard, mainly Tre Jones if the two were to commit to Duke, I do not see IU taking Phinisee as a turn-off for the five-star guard.
Indiana currently holds a three-man class. Phinisee and Damezi Anderson, another Rivals150 standout, can each be leaned on for their shot-making abilities. The duo is joined by the gem of the class, Jerome Hunter, a 6-foot-7 forward that can play a variety of positions. Hunter is the type of mix and match prospect that should thrive at Indiana.
I would not say I am surprised by Miller’s first class at Indiana as he has never been afraid to go up against the best for top talent. However, if Miller really wants to impress, he has to land one of its top recruits this year, namely Garland or five-star wing Romeo Langford.
The news of Isaiah Stewart transferring into La Lumiere this fall could add a few more schools into the mix for the Rivals150 big man.
Entering his junior year, Stewart was an already heavily pursued prospect by the local schools near his Rochester, N.Y. home. This summer, his stock went national but now heading to the Midwest, I would expect for Notre Dame along with many other Big East and Big Ten schools to begin to pursue him.
Nate Laszewski is a 6-foot-8 forward that was one of the top breakout performers this past July and who brought in a couple of blueblood offers to end his senior summer.
While it may be difficult to hold off the elite programs, Notre Dame and Wake Forest -- who both have September visits set and have hosted Laszewski unofficially -- have remained steadfast in their pursuit of Laszewski, along with Miami and Vanderbilt. The Irish still hold out hope that they can defeat the newer schools to the mix, though it will be difficult.
Sean Miller recruited former star big man Kaleb Tarczewski from the same travel program as Laszewski’s and the Arizona name carries weight nationally. Indiana offers Laszewski the chance to play near his home. Lastly, North Carolina will enroll his former teammate at Northfield Mount Hermon, Andrew Platek, this fall and the idea of suiting up for the defending national champions may weigh heavily. Wisconsin has family ties with Laszewski as well.
At the end of it, Notre Dame has remained in contention for Laszewski and the Irish should have a say whenever it comes time for the Rivals150 forward to commit.
UCLA has been good for landing early commitments, but this year is a bit different. Outside of the Rivals150 spring commitment of David Singleton, the Bruins been rather quiet. This past weekend Nazreon Reid, a top priority of the program, announced that he was down to a final two of Arizona and LSU. Where does UCLA go next in the frontcourt?
They will have some shoes to fill next spring. The Bruins will enroll Chris Smith, Jalen Hill and Cody Riley this fall, but resupplying the cupboard is a major need. Luckily, UCLA has laid down various back-up plans with a handful of local forwards along with a few others across the nation.
One big man that could receive even more attention now is Jordan Brown. The five-star big man from Sacramento hasn’t spoken much about his recruitment and while the staff at Cal has done a great job of remaining in the hunt, the Bruins could invest further time with the in-state talent, thus putting them out in front.
UCLA has continued to keep tabs on up-and-coming Bryan Penn-Johnson. While he does not bring the same clout as Reid, his upside may be just as good. Along with Penn-Johnson, UCLA will remain in the hunt for other Rivals150 prospects including David McCormack, Bol Bol and Moses Brown. A few others that could see a heftier recruitment from the Bruins include Jaedon LeDee -- who has an official set for early October -- and even Zion Williamson, though the East Coast powers are the ones to beat for the latter.
Iowa State hit it big in the 2017 class thanks to the commitment of Lindell Wigginton. A five-star guard prospect, Wigginton is expected to take the reins of the Big 12 program this winter and could become the next Cyclone backcourt great. However, ISU will need to replace four-year stalwart Monte Morris at the lead guard position and while Wigginton is enough to suffice, he is more of a scorer than playmaker, thus making a facilitating agent a must this fall.
The point guard position has been a major priority for the Cyclones this summer which is the spot where I see them landing their first commitment.
Xavier Castaneda, though he has not set an official visit date with Iowa State, has remained on the Cyclones' board. They have set up a visit with Tyrese Haliburton, though he is more of a combo, jumbo wing that brings point guard skills to the backcourt. The one name to keep tabs on, if you’re a Cyclone fan, is Tyler Harris.
A quick and confident scoring lead guard, Harris was phenomenal to end his final few weeks on the travel circuit last month. He led his Team Thad unit to the Fab 48 championship, one of the top events of the summer, and showed major toughness and the ability to impact a college program next year. While he is not the facilitating, pass-first guard that Prohm may be looking for, he can evolve into such a thing. Colorado State, Wichita State, Memphis, Cincinnati and Ole Miss remain in the mix, too, though the Cyclones could have the edge.
The recruitment of Zion Williamson has been discussed ad nauseam in recent months, though nothing new has come out of his camp. A five-star forward and the most productive player in his graduating 2018 class, Williamson will immediately make whichever program that he calls home the most watched college basketball team next year. Where he lands is up for debate.
Kansas will offer the chance for Williamson to walk in and become the man similar to how others at his position have done. Not one program has had better wing-forwards within the past five years than the Jayhawks, as they have seen such talents as Josh Jackson, Kelly Oubre, Andrew Wiggins and, this year, Billy Preston come through the program. KU can also play the adidas card, the shoe brand that sponsors both Williamson's high school and travel basketball teams.
However, wooing Williamson away from the East Coast will be difficult. North Carolina, Duke and Clemson have more than shown enough attention with the South Carolina native to say that he is one of their top recruits, especially for the Tigers, a program that his stepfather once played for.
South Carolina, the in-state program, must be given its due as a possible destination as Frank Martin and his staff were heavily visible at each of Williamson's games this summer. The fact that the Gamecocks are fresh off of a Final Four appearance does not hurt their cause.
Kentucky, as always, is going to be a major contender. While the talk of Williamson and five-star guard Immanuel Quickley playing together in college may be overblown, the duo do have a tremendous relationship which should only help the Wildcats’ cause.
Throw in UCLA and Arizona and there is no shortage of elite suitors for Williamson. The Jayhawks have gained a little momentum of late but saying that a commitment to KU is in line would be a bit too much at this point. Visits still have to be set, other five-star decisions need to be made and further work must be done before Williamson comes close to calling it a day within his own recruitment.