Twitter Tuesday: R.J. Barrett, Ohio State, VCU, Tyus Battle, Pitt
Back for another round of #TwitterTuesday, as we are one week closer to the beginning of the school year and a plethora of college visits. In this week’s rundown we take a dive into the recruitment of five-star wing R.J. Barrett, the future of Syracuse guard Tyus Battle and how Ohio State, VCU and Pitt fill out their remaining senior class.
R.J. Barrett made major noise to tip off the month by announcing his plans to reclassify into the 2018 class. The former top-ranked prospect in the 2019 class is coming off of a dominant 37-point showing against the United States at the FIBA under-19 World Cup.
Last week, my colleague Eric Bossi broke down the potential landing spots for Barrett, with Oregon being one of the teams mentioned. The Ducks have been tremendous of late at reeling in the best talent from Canada. The Pac-12 program will remain heavily in the mix but there will not be a shortage of heavy hitters in contention.
No surprise: Kentucky and Duke will also be battling for Barrett's commitment. Both programs have become springboards for one-and-done prospects and have been in contention for a while. Arizona, Kansas, UConn, Michigan and St. John’s have also shown heavy attention to the Canadian.
Where Barrett will land remains up for debate, but Oregon should be involved until the end.
Muhammad is more of a scoring guard but is also one of the top defenders in his class. St. John’s was his perceived leader but after taking a visit to the Queens campus in June and not committing, the window is opening for another program to land Muhammad. He recently cut his list down to a group of five comprised of Xavier, Ohio State, St. John's, West Virginia and Virginia. He will make his own trip to Columbus on Sept. 1, and the Buckeyes should now be considered alongside the Red Storm as a favorite in his recruitment.
It seems unlikely that Ohio State will land both Weaver and Muhammad, but I would be shocked if the Buckeyes struck out on both.
The Rams and new coach Mike Rhoades are in good shape with Rondo Segu and P.J. Byrd, though the latter may be the likeliest of commitments. Segu appears to be favoring Buffalo and South Florida but Byrd, one of the top playmakers and passers in the 2018 class, could be the next point guard to leave his mark on VCU's program. The Rams are also in the mix for Tre Wood and Trey McGowans, two local talents that bolstered their stock this summer.
VCU, thanks to its heavy reliance on shooters and wings that can speed up the game, wouldn’t mind adding an off-guard in 2018. Keonte Kennedy, a 6-foot-4 shooting guard from Texas, is on the radar for the Rams, as is local product Jason Wade, a Rivals150 talent that is actually best used as a point guard.
When it comes to frontcourt targets, the Rams recently made the final list for Rivals150 forward Samba Diallo. He is a hard-playing forward that would be excellent in VCU’s system. The Rams' other frontcourt targets include Florent Thamba, Jake Forrester, Jimmy Nichols, Jayden Gardner and Souleymane Doumbia, all of whom can either rebound at a high rate or spread the floor with the perimeter jumper.
Tyus Battle, a rising sophomore on this year’s Syracuse Orange squad, has the potential to play his way into the NBA Draft this year. There was never any question about Battle’s talent or upside in high school, but he was inconsistent. During his initial season for the Orange, he answered some of these questions by averaging more than 11 points per game and playing more than 25 minutes in 23 of his teams’ last 24 games.
The next step for Battle is doing a little more than just scoring. Playing more than 30 minutes per game but averaging fewer than four rebounds and assists per game combined is not good. However, Battle did play on the ball during his high school days as he does have the vision, playmaking skills and versatility to be a well-rounded mismatch weapon.
Things are tracking toward a breakout campaign for Battle. If he can average 15 points, three rebounds and two assists per game – not lofty numbers for how much he will be relied upon – chances are that Battle could become Syracuse's NBA Draft first-rounder.
Fortunately for Battle, the 2018 draft class is lacking in star power and depth. This should bode well in Battle's favor.
Pitt made some noise prior to the July evaluation periods thanks to the commitment of Bryce Golden. Golden is a 6-foot-8 big man that has become known for his blue-collar playing style, his rebounding and ability to score. Pitt needs to land a few more this fall as it will lose three to graduation.
The Panthers will host Rivals150 forward Jake Forrester for his first official visit on Sept. 1. The face-up power forward is an excellent rebounder that can defend various spots and has become more effective with his 15-foot and beyond jumper. Forrester once attended The Kiski School, of which is located less than an hour’s drive from Pitt’s campus. He has another visit set for Indiana but it would be easy to assume that the Panthers’ coaching staff will be doing all that they can to end things early with Forrester.
If Pitt is unable to scratch out the commitment from Forrest, the Panthers could heat things up with Brewster Academy and Lithuanian center Lukas Kisunas, along with Michael Durr, a 2018 center that recently brought in a Georgetown offer.
In the backcourt, Pitt continues to pursue a handful of playmaking guards that can be used in a variety of capacities. The Panthers made the final list for Dwayne Cohill, a Rivals150 guard from Ohio. Others on Pitt's board include Zach Scott, a 6-foot-3 facilitator that can be valued for his shooting, Saddiq Bey, a do-it-all wing for whom Pitt just made the final six, and Curtis Aiken Jr., one of the top local talents whose father suited up for the ACC program during the 1980s.