Wednesday's Mailbag: Is it SEC for Brandon Huntley-Hatfield?
Is Brandon Huntley-Hatfield set to attend an SEC program? What about Jahmai Mashack? Can anyone but Duke or Milwaukee land Patrick Baldwin Jr.? Analyst Corey Evans offers his takes on these questions and more from Wednesday's Mailbag.
Man, that is difficult because we are still so far away from a decision from Brandon Huntley-Hatfield. If I had to pick today, it would be Auburn or Ole Miss. Both have invested major time and attention into the five-star junior, which is a major reason why they are the teams to beat.
Some were shocked by Kentucky’s exclusion from Huntley-Hatfield’s list of his final eight schools that he released over the weekend. The Wildcats were a dream school for Huntley-Hatfield growing up, and he is the younger cousin of former UK standout Alex Poythress. However, Kentucky has just not recruited Huntley-Hatfield as hard and diligently as all the other programs found on his final list. By cutting UK now, Huntley-Hatfield can focus on places that he can realistically see himself in a year or two.
Speaking of which, a reclassification could definitely be in the plans. Huntley-Hatfield was originally a member of the 2021 class, but he moved into the 2022 class two years ago. He has the talent and size to impact a college playing floor already, which would make his reclassification attainable if he decides to go that route.
Huntley-Hatfield has already taken an official visit to Ole Miss, and he is hoping to potentially commit on Jan. 21, his sister’s birthday. To put much weight into the Auburn or Ole Miss predictions would be a bit shortsighted, however, because a lot of time remains before he settles on one of those two programs or Kansas, Louisville, Tennessee, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest or Georgia.
As good as anyone’s. Despite the increase in regional recruiting because of the ongoing pandemic, it does not appear that it has made much of a mark on the recruitment of Jahmai Mashack. The top-75 wing out of Southern California is not far from making a decision, and he could make one before the end of the week.
The Vols have had some wins this summer, but also a recent loss as Paolo Banchero committed to Duke two weeks ago. However, Kennedy Chandler is still a possibility, which is HUGE for Tennessee's short and long-term projections. The Vols remain a leader for Jabari Smith and that can also be said for Mashack, who has family in the area and is intrigued by the development-first approach that Rick Barnes and his staff have become known for.
Others involved with Mashack include Arkansas, Cal, Oklahoma, Texas and Arizona, where his brother played football. All six have made Mashack a priority this summer and with each will be facing a need along the perimeter after the season. But UT has a great grasp on things and should be adding another tremendous player very soon.
I just do not see it. Kentucky made the final list for Patrick Baldwin Jr., and the Wildcats have a major need in the frontcourt, especially for a shot-maker as good and talented as Baldwin. But if UK were to win out with the five-star, it might go down as one of John Calipari’s biggest upsets on the recruiting trail since he took over in Lexington.
Duke and Milwaukee are seen as the favorites for Baldwin. The Blue Devils who just enrolled his friend and former travel teammate, Jalen Johnson, and they were one of the first programs to prioritize Baldwin. They have also done some of their best work with talented players from the Midwest. Paolo Banchero’s commitment to Duke does not affect their chances with Baldwin.
Milwaukee, which employs Baldwin’s father as its head coach, is not a typical landing spot when it comes to a five-star talent, but the family connection could be just enough to keep the No.1-ranked player home for college. Baldwin is very close to his father and siblings, and the idea of helping his dad rebuild the Horizon League program and put it on the map before he leaves for the NBA might intrigue Baldwin enough to pick the mid-major over the bluebloods.
If it is not Duke or Milwaukee, it might even be Georgetown or North Carolina before he considers Kentucky. UK will not stop recruiting him, and assistant coach Tony Barbee has done a great job of getting the Wildcats involved, but there is plenty more work to be done on the Wildcats’ part. In the meantime, they are getting more involved with Daimion Collins.
That's a great observation on your part, because things have been rather silent on the D’Marco Dunn front but that doesn't mean schools aren't continuing to pursue him. Rather, after Dunn practically emerged out of nowhere earlier in the spring, the four-star may be getting a bit tired of the recruiting process, which might mean that a decision is near.
If he were to make a choice soon, it would be between Arizona or North Carolina. Dunn is originally from Arizona, and moved to North Carolina last fall before beginning his junior year. Most of Dunn's family remains out West, the Wildcats will need a primary scorer once the upcoming season completes, so Arizona is a strong suitor.
However, UNC has been the talk all summer with Dunn. As with Arizona, the Tar Heels would like to add another scorer to their backcourt for next season.
Carolina is the leader and Arizona is not far behind. If there is one wild card to watch it is Vanderbilt. Jerry Stackhouse has developed a very strong relationship with Dunn and his family and coaches. He will have to defeat two of the game’s best, but if anyone can do it it is Stackhouse and the Commodores.
No commitment date is set with Ryan Mutombo, but with prospects coming off the board at a record pace it wouldn’t be a surprise if he were to follow the trend and decide sooner rather than later.
The four-star center is one of the best centers, and Georgetown should be seen as the team to beat. Word began to circulate this summer that Florida State had taken the pole position for Mutombo, but after cementing its 2021 class by picking up John Butler and Naheem McLeod, the Seminoles are no longer involved. That is good news for the Hoyas, who are primarily battling Georgia Tech for his commitment, although Tennessee could get back involved after they missed on Paolo Banchero.
Let’s stick around the five-star territory and look at three prospects that are considered heavy leans to one or two programs but would shock the recruiting industry if they were to pick someone else entirely.
Harrison Ingram: This has been a Purdue-Stanford battle, but what if it’s Michigan? Juwan Howard was hurting last year when Josh Christopher picked Arizona State, but how wild would it be if Howard enjoyed a reversal of fortunes in the 2021 class with the ultra-versatile Ingram?
Patrick Baldwin Jr.: It's Duke or Milwaukee for Baldwin, right? Maybe not. Georgetown has struggled mightily in the recruitment of five-star prospects, but assistant coach Louie Orr has a great relationship with Baldwin and his family. Don’t bet on the Hoyas, but a shocking commitment is a bit more realistic than many realize.
Caleb Houstan: Is it one of the bluebloods for Houstan? Duke offered and so did North Carolina. Arizona, Gonzaga, Michigan and Oregon are among the others involved. The complete dark horse: Alabama. The Tide have had some of their top recruiting wins north of the border, which could come into play when it comes time for the top Canadian prospect in the 2021 class to make his decision.