The numerous reports of high school basketball players being a “package deal” (meaning they intend to attend college together) greatly exceeds the amount of times it actually happens. With that said, there was little doubt that 6-8 forward Wannah Bail and 6-5 guard Michael Carey, both of Lamar Consolidated (Texas), would attend college together.
Bail and Carey came to play high school hoops in Texas from the Bahamas, and were on the same team on the AAU circuit, the Houston-based Franchize All-Stars. So when it came time to pick a college, there was little doubt that the duo wouldn’t be broken up. Originally set for a decision in October, Houston was presumed to lead to land both players, but apparently didn’t have the ability to offer both prospects scholarships. Oregon, Florida State and other programs were considered by the tandem, but on Monday both players committed to Texas Tech.
Bail is easily the more talented of the pair and a top-100 prospect who could have an immediate impact at power forward for the rebuilding Red Raiders. He’s a long interior player who can defend and use his athleticism to score near the hoop. There’s still some polishing to be done on the hardwood, but when it’s all said and done, Bail could potentially end up as a multi-year starter in Lubbock.
More than just Bail’s sidekick, Carey should also help down the road. He possesses nice size at 6-5 to play both guard spots, though it isn’t entirely clear what position he ultimately will play. Most likely, Carey projects as scoring guard with the ability to slash and score. With the significant roster turnover in the Texas Tech program Billy Gillispie became coach, Carey could also figure to have an early impact under the right conditions.
The coaching staff for the Red Raiders has been busy on the recruiting trail, as in addition to Bail and Carey joining the three other prospects in the 2012 class, they also recently picked up a commitment from 6-7 small forward Blake Danielak, a 6-7 small forward from Liberty Hill (Texas). The slender Danielak is said to be a shooting specialist with solid upside due to his athleticism. His sister plays at Cornell, and his father played college hoops.
Texas Tech has a distance to travel before they are a threat to contend for Big-12 honors, but player by player, Gillispie is putting together some talent for the future. Bail, in particular, could end up being a terrific addition for the Red Raiders.
Troubled former Class of 2010 star Geron Johnson finds a home at Memphis
Almost in conjunction with the announcement that Memphis is headed to the Big East, the Tigers took a verbal commitment from a junior college transfer who is suited for rough and tumble play at the high-major level. Recruiting junkies will remember 6-2 Geron Johnson was a standout two years ago as a senior at Dayton Dunbar, Ohio, and was considered a top-100 prospect in that class by numerous sources.
Off the court issues prevented Johnson from matriculating to D-1 basketball straight out of high school, and he instead took a two year sojourn to the junior college ranks. He started at Chipola JC in Florida, but was eventually dismissed from the team during his freshman season. This year, Johnson is starring at Garden City CC (Kan.), and counted Kansas as a finalist for his final two years of college, prior to picking Memphis. Still, Johnson has also had personal issues while at Garden City CC.
Johnson joins top-notch power forward William “Shaquille” Goodwin and slashing wing Damien Wilson in the recruiting class to date at Memphis. Goodwin and Wilson signed with Memphis during the early signing period, and Johnson is expected to sign in April with the Tigers. Goodwin and Wilson are top-100 prospects in the 2012 class.
Should Johnson keep his act together, he could be a factor next season. Current sophomore shooting guard Will Barton is a candidate to jump to the NBA, and Johnson could vie for heavy minutes as part of the crew that replaces Barton. Johnson potentially can contribute to the backcourt as a combo guard, and has undeniable talent. Still, Johnson’s track record of troubles cannot be ignored, so he’ll have to remain on the straight and narrow to make an impact at Memphis.
Early decisions for touted juniors to Penn State, Georgia and VCU
A smattering of prep juniors made verbal commitments in the last week, and Penn State stands out as landing an intriguing 2013 prospect last week. Since taking over as coach, Pat Chambers has made a point to recruit Philadelphia-area talent to Penn State. The first score was Southern Miss transfer DJ Newbill, a Philly-native, but another talent has come on board with the commitment of Brandon Austin.
Penn State plucked Austin, a 6-6 combo guard, from Imhotep Charter (Pa.), and has added a terrific prospect. He will likely end up as a top-100 recruit, if he continues his progression as a player. Austin is tall and slender, and frequently exploits his size and handle to create obvious mismatches when smaller defenders attempt to stop him. The Nittany Lions previously obtained a commitment from 2013 guard Geno Thorpe, who could form quite a dangerous backcourt combo with Austin, two years from now.
Also, VCU and Georgia both added 2013 point guard prospects. The Rams and Bulldogs were both in the hunt for JeQuan Lewis, a quick lead guard from Tennessee. Lewis made his call to coach Shaka Smart and verbally committed, and Georgia quickly moved on to another point guard, in-state prospect JJ Frazier. Lewis is a nice addition for VCU, in that he is a good scorer and defender. Frazier is also a scoring-oriented lead guard, though at 5-8 he’ll certainly have to diversify his offensive skill-set to make an impact in the SEC. Still, Frazier represents coach Mark Fox’s continued emphasis on keeping top in-state players in the Peach State.
Kellon Hassenstab runs Hoopniks.com. Follow him on Twitter @hoopniks.