The dust is finally settling from Kyle Anderson’s announcement that he would be going across the country and playing for UCLA.
People are saying the Pac-12 is back and UCLA is a potential Final Four threat in 2012-13, while Seton Hall fans are devastated. As one Seton Hall blogger tweeted, “Feeling like Cleveland after the Decision.”
In recruiting, though, there’s always another player, another target, another must-have prospect on the horizon. Whether it’s UCLA building off Anderson’s commitment or Seton Hall bouncing back from its disappointment, each of the five teams in the Anderson sweepstakes – Florida, Georgetown, St. John’s are the other three – have already moved on from last night’s festivities.
Where are they turning?
UCLA: The Bruins could be on the verge of rivaling Arizona for the top recruiting class in the country. With Anderson, Dominic Artis and Jordan Adams already in the fold, Ben Howland has a good young perimeter group. What would take this team to the next level is Shabazz Muhammad, the No. 1 prospect in the country and the crown jewel of the class. UCLA has long been considered a favorite for his services, while rumors behind the scenes of a Kyle Anderson-Shabazz Muhammad package deal have picked up in recent weeks. UCLA is also squarely in the mix for either Shaq Goodwin or Tony Parker down low. Both are five-star prospects and are considering the Bruins. If Howland can get Muhammad and one of the two big men, he’ll have the top class in the country.
Seton Hall: To me, the most important for the Pirates is not to dwell on the disappointment and continue to go after five-star players. Sure, Anderson was a unique case in that he was from Seton Hall’s backyard, but the idea is the same: the Pirates are in an arms race locally with St. John’s and Rutgers, and they need to keep up. As I tweeted yesterday, Seton Hall feels pretty confident about New York prospects Daniel Dingle, Kareem Canty and Jevon Thomas. The Pirates need to lock down their area by getting a few local kids every year, and then still go after top-100 guys in other regions. Rutgers and St. John’s have started doing it the past few years; Seton Hall has to keep up.
Florida: The Gators made a late run in the Anderson sweepstakes, but ultimately fell short. Billy Donovan’s troops have plenty of perimeter talent stockpiled for 2012-13, with juniors Kenny Boynton and Mike Rosario, freshman Brad Beal and three guard commitments, led by talented point guard Braxton Ogbueze. If no players leave school early after the upcoming season, the Gators could be out of scholarships. With that said, Florida is still in the mix for several frontcourt prospects. The Gators are on the final lists of Mitch McGary, Willie Cauley, Anthony Bennett, Alex Poythress, Robert Carter, Brice Johnson and T.J. Warren – all top-40 frontcourt players. Landing just one would provide great balance to the Gators’ class.
St. John’s: Forgive the Red Storm if they weren’t completely focused on recruiting over the past week. Three incoming freshmen – Norvel Pelle, Amir Garrett and Jakarr Sampson – were ruled ineligible for the first semester. Pelle and Garrett are hoping to enroll during the second semester, while Sampson went back to Brewster Academy. If Sampson decides to return to St. John’s, the Red Storm will likely have one scholarship available for 2012-13. Ricardo Gathers will help up front, but Steve Lavin could use more help down low. Chris Obekpa, who plays at Our Savior New American (N.Y.), rose up the charts in the summer and could be someone the Red Storm target.
Georgetown: Due to the Hoyas’ offensive system, Anderson would have been a great fit in D.C. However, without him, John Thompson III will move on. The Hoyas only have one commitment for 2012 – big man Brandon Bolden – but they are still hunting for prospects. They are still in the mix for T.J. Warren, Tony Parker, D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera, Robert Upshaw and others. Ideally, they will come away with a guard and a frontcourt player. Backcourt depth for the Hoyas in 2012-13 is shallow, so a good scoring guard (Smith-Rivera fits the bill) could be a priority. Moreover, with all the frontcourt talent left on board, the Hoyas could stockpile another big man.
Photo: St. Anthony