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Wednesday's Leftovers: Dishing on Walker Kessler, UNC, Shaka Smart

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Walker Kessler

In today’s Wednesday’s Leftovers, we take a look at Virginia’s continued pursuit of top 10 junior Walker Kessler, where Georgetown might strike next, UNC’s recruiting board this winter and Shaka Smart’s job security at Texas.

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I am going to say no, but Virginia is much more in the hunt for Walker Kessler than many believe. Duke just offered the top 10 center, and the masses quickly assumed that he is Durham-bound. He definitely could be in the long run, but Kessler has remained rather patient with the recruiting process. Georgia was the team to beat prior to his breakout toward the end of last summer, thanks to the Bulldogs' proximity to him and his family ties to the school. First-year head coach Tom Crean has also done a great job of making Kessler a priority recruit.

However, the Wahoos have really impressed the big man, as have Michigan, UNC and Vanderbilt, programs that should have a major say when the time comes for Kessler to commit. I might not be ready to say that he will be a Cavalier, but things certainly remain fluid.

North Carolina would love nothing more than to answer its backcourt needs with the commitment of Cole Anthony. The top lead guard in the 2019 class, Anthony is down to a final six of Georgetown, Miami, Notre Dame, Oregon, UNC, and Wake Forest. This looks like a two-horse race between the Ducks and Tar Heels, but it remains unclear which program he will select. Anthony Edwards would be awesome at the 2-guard, and the Tar Heels sit in his final five. But their chances with Edwards are much slimmer than with Anthony.

The combo forward/wing spot is also a major priority for the Tar Heels, as they just offered Precious Achiuwa, though their best chances lay with Keion Brooks and Matthew Hurt. Brooks is much closer to his decision, and it looks to be a battle between Indiana and UNC for him. Hurt is trending toward a spring decision, and UNC is among the top suitors for him, along with Duke, Kansas and Kentucky.

Georgetown remains involved in the race for Terrence Shannon, who has been rather silent with his recruitment and a commitment does not look imminent.

One decision that does seem to be imminent is that of Qudus Wahab. Go ahead, roll your eyes. I know that you have heard this one before. The Rivals150 center was expected to commit weeks before the New Year, but instead put it on the back burner. However, Wahab did tell last week that he will make his commitment on Jan. 30. Selecting a favorite for him is tricky, but the latest whispers surround the Hoyas.

Defeating Pitt, Syracuse, UConn and Virginia Tech will be no easy task, and it would not be a shock to see Wahab at any of the programs on his final list.

But could the lure of playing close to home and for a Hall of Fame big man in Patrick Ewing be enough to get the Hoyas over the hump? Only time will tell, but it does look as if Wahab is Georgetown’s best shot to make a major mark this winter. Meanwhile, the Hoyas continue to kick the tires on Shannon, Damion Baugh and Gerald Drumgoole.

While Shaka Smart has not had the success that he had enjoyed during his time at VCU, there doesn’t seem to be much heat on his seat in Austin. To play the way that Smart wants to play, he needs the right type of prospects, and he is beginning to have some success on the recruiting front.

While he is in his fourth year at Texas, the Longhorns have begun to lure the appropriate guards that are a must for Smart’s system while at the same time becoming a landing spot for some top big-man recruits. Chances are, UT will see a its star freshman big man, Jaxson Hayes, selected in the first round of the NBA Draft, and that would make the third consecutive year that Texas has had a big man go in the first round.

Sure, Texas does have to begin winning the games it should, and the Longhorns just lost home games to Radford and VCU. But they have also defeated Arkansas, Purdue and UNC this season and - barring the bottom falling out - they will return to the field of 68 again this March. Throw in another strong 2019 class that ranks in the top 25 and a new arena on the way in three years and it's likely Texas will continue to have a national presence. So, unless Smart feels like he has exhausted all of his avenues in Austin after this season, I do not see him jumping ship or a firing taking place.