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Basketball Recruiting

Jake's Take: Alabama/Gonzaga, 2021 recruits, and more.

October 12, 2020

Another fresh week of Jake’s Take after it’s two-week disappearance.

I discuss Alabama and Gonzaga’s recruiting efforts and what the future is looking like for their 2021 classes. Also, I take a look at front-runners in the recruitments of five-stars Caleb Houston and Aminu Mohammed.

My honorable mention: Bryce McGowens.

I’ve spoken on this both on the radio and on Twitter but I don’t mind repeating myself again. Nate Oats has fully changed the culture of Alabama basketball. It has been a rising program over the past few years but now it has risen to new heights and it just continued with the pickup of JD Davison who was a priority since Nate Oats took the job and even before that.

Since arriving in Tuscaloosa he’s landed highly-coveted transfers in Jahvon Quinerly and Jordan Bruner, picked up one of JUCO’s top-rated prospects in Keon Ellis, and brought in a talent-packed incoming freshman class that includes five-star and future NBA draft-selection, Joshua Primo.

Now, Tide fans are focused on the dream scenario that they have for their 2021 class and that’s surrounding JD Davison with Charles Bediako, Caleb Houstan, and Langston Wilson. The question here was of the three, how many could Oats land a commitment from. My answer: At least one. 

I’ll start with Charles Bediako, he’s down to a final list that includes the Tide, Michigan, Duke, Ohio State, and Texas. If I had to narrow it down I’d see good fits anywhere but the two programs I’m very intrigued with are both Alabama and Ohio State. Bediako’s connections with Keon Ambrose-Hylton and Joshua Primo are one thing but with key departures occurring after this season, I think he’d see instant minutes with the Tide. As for the Buckeyes, they’ve seen him play tons while he was in Ohio and he even took a visit to the campus. Wouldn’t count out Chris Holtmann.

Now, with Caleb Houstan. We saw the final-four of Duke, Virginia, Alabama, and Michigan. The recruitments of Bediako and Houstan are very much similar and could finish with a similar result. Call me crazy but as I said with Bediako, the Tide is one of my current favorites, along with my darkhorse for Houstan which is... Virginia. Many might find that surprising but it really isn’t. Tony Bennett was one of the first to contact him during quarantine and after the reclass. With a likely departure of Sam Hauser, the Cavaliers would get instant-impact minutes for Houstan in one of the country's best conferences, the ACC. Very intriguing option.

Finally, Langston Wilson. The highly-rated junior college forward has tons of programs involved and is yet to cut down to a final list of schools. I find him cutting down to a final list very unlikely at this moment. I think out of the three prospects that Bama fans are eying hard, Wilson is the most likely to give a pledge at this time. They’re emerging as a favorite and Wilson recently told me in an interview that it’s possible he announces his commitment this month. That leaves him two weeks to ‘possibly’ announce. This kid is a super-talented prospect that would find his way into instant minutes if he joins the Tide.

Gonzaga missed out on Paolo Banchero for their 2021 class but made up for it by landing Top-75 prospect Ben Gregg who announced his pledge to Mark Few last month. They already had the talented four-star Kaden Perry pledged for the Zags and their 2021 class but now they’ve got sights set on something bigger: Chet Holmgren and Hunter Sallis.

Both of whom have cut down to final lists, Holmgren down to seven: Michigan, Georgetown, Ohio State, North Carolina, Memphis, Minnesota, and the Zags. Sallis, however, is down to eleven schools, including Kentucky, Iowa State, Alabama, Michigan, Oregon, Creighton, Kansas, Louisville, North Carolina, Auburn, UCLA, and the Zags.

Sallis would be the hardest to land out of the two due to the fact that it’s wide-open. I currently see him landing with either Kentucky or North Carolina but a program like Oregon or Gonzaga wouldn’t surprise me. He took an official visit to the program last fall and would end up becoming an instant priority for Mark Few.

As for Holmgren, I find a more realistic chance of him landing in Spokane than I do with Sallis. First off, he had an outstanding visit to campus with Mark Few’s star-studded 2020 class which includes Julian Strawther, Dominick Harris, and Holmgren’s teammate and close friend, Jalen Suggs. It’s super obvious, Suggs has been in pursuit of his teammate since pledging his commitment to the Zags. 

Suggs will likely depart after one-year but that hasn’t stopped him from pushing at his former teammate. With Oumar Ballo and talented-sophomore Drew Timme possibly staying in Spokane in 2021, it would give Holmgren great surrounding pieces and great teammates to practice against. I wouldn’t count out any of his other contenders and we haven’t seen an early favorite, but for me, it’s my prediction that he leaves the state of Minnesota.

Aminu Mohammed and his guardian Shawn Harmon have done an excellent job at keeping his recruitment close to the vest. Programs like Georgetown, Georgia, Indiana, all have done an excellent job at remaining heavily involved and recently we’ve seen things heat up with their recruitment of Mohammed.

I reported on Friday, Indiana’s Archie Miller completed a zoom call with his staff and Mohammed and discussed the possibility of enrolling in January if Mohammed were to choose the Hoosiers. For months, Miller has made it clear that he’s all-in on landing Mohammed and if that meant him enrolling early, Miller would take him.

(Enters Patrick Ewing)

The Georgetown Hoyas landed a major target in Ryan Mutombo but have their sights set now on the program’s other major target in Mohammed. The staff is in contact daily, according to Shawn Harmon, and even spoke with him after the commitment of Ryan Mutombo to let him know that he’s still a priority. The Hoyas are one of my dark horses and we will continue to watch the hot-pursuit from the staff.

Tom Crean and Georgia emerged as a possible landing spot for him this summer. The Bulldogs have stayed in daily contact with Mohammed and Harmon and are currently working on setting up a virtual visit this upcoming week with the five-star. He would be an instant program-changer for Tom Crean and the Dogs who have Anthony Edwards likely taken in the top-three in the upcoming NBA draft.

His current timeline, per his guardian, is a late-December or early-January commitment.

Many of you also asked me the latest on Bryce McGowens as well as Bryce Hopkins. 

Hopkins told me he will be making a commitment at some point and will be choosing from his nine finalists rather than cutting down his list again. His final list includes Kentucky, Illinois, Michigan, Oregon, Cal, Texas, Providence, Iowa State, and Indiana. I think the current favorite here in Kentucky. There is optimism for Illinois’ side of things as well, they had been seen as a favorite but many have switched to Kentucky.

I believe the Illini remains in the mix, but I think this is much closer then people think. 

As for McGowens, we reported his offer from Oregon that came in yesterday. Beyond that, he’s heard from Nebraska, Georgia, LSU, Maryland, Michigan, Arizona, Kansas, South Carolina, Wake Forest, Iowa State, Kentucky, Virginia Tech, and others. 

His brother Trey and close friend Elijah Wood are both enrolled at Nebraska. The opportunity to play with both of them has come up but I don’t believe there’s a favorite at this point for Bryce. He could possibly come out with a list first rather than a commitment.

He was committed to Florida State before reopening things and I won’t count out the Noles at all. The staff has been close with McGowens for over a year and then landed him and they remain heavily involved and I would expect them to continue to be involved as McGowen’s continues the process. I expect more schools to inquire, perhaps a program like North Carolina who should take a look at a local kid in McGowens.

No current favorite for me in this one but more updates will come as his recruitment continues.



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