Each Monday and Friday, College Basketball Talk’s Scott Phillips goes over some important news and notes in the world of college basketball recruiting. This week, Noah Dickerson changes his mind, Tyler Dorsey sets two official visits and cuts his list and Landry Shamet is down to four.
Noah Dickerson to Florida shows how timetables can change
Georgia native and Class of 2015 big man Noah Dickerson was originally committed to Georgetown, but backed off of his commitment in late June. When the No. 56 overall prospect in Rivals‘ 2015 rankings spoke with CBT in late July at AAU Nationals in Louisville, he mentioned that he would make a spring decision. After previously being committed, it was understandable that Dickerson wanted to wait and make a decision since he was probably behind on the recruiting process and wanted to make sure he made the right choice the second time around.
Which made the 6-foot-8 Dickerson’s commitment to Florida last week so surprising. Not only were the Gators able to convince Dickerson to pledge before his initial timeframe, they weren’t even on Dickerson’s core list as of a month ago. Dickerson mentioned to NBCSports.com in July that Georgetown, Louisville, Michigan and Virginia were the four schools involved with him the most and Florida made quick work to nab a big man that happened to be playing his high school ball in their state at Montverde Academy.
It goes to show how one school jumping in the mix and making a hard push can really change things in the recruiting process, even if a prospect seems set on abiding by a certain timeframe.
Tyler Dorsey sets two official visits while cutting his list to 10
As one of the better guards in the 2015 class, California native Tyler Dorsey has been a coveted prospect since decommitting from Arizona in June. According to his grassroots coach, Dinos Trigonis, Dorsey has a new list of 10 schools while also setting two official visits.
Trigonis told NBCSports.com that the 6-foot-4 Dorsey, a five-star prospect according to Rivals, will visit Oregon from September 5th through the 7th while he trips to Kansas from the 10th through the 12th of October.
Besides the Ducks and Jayhawks, Arizona State, Cal, Colorado, Georgetown, Louisville, St. John’s, UConn and UNLV are also involved.
Although Dorsey transferred high schools and will finish out his career at Maranatha, he played in the same backcourt as UConn incoming freshman wing Daniel Hamilton last season at St. John Bosco, so that’s something to keep tabs on as Dorsey sets further visits and potentially cuts his list again.
Under-the-radar shooter sets his final four
It’s been mentioned many times on CBT that the 2015 class is greatly lacking guards and shooters. It’s part of the reason why three-star prospect Landry Shamet has become a coveted prospect.
The Kansas City native took to Twitter on Monday to announce that he’s down to Colorado, Illinois, Kansas State and Wichita State.
Officially cut my list to 4. Will be taking officials to all 4. Thank you to everyone who's supported me so far!! pic.twitter.com/esbb5YxwoU
At 6-foot-4, Shamet has good size to play the two-guard and flew a bit under-the-radar nationally on the grassroots circuit, so it will be interesting to see where he ends up after his four official visits.
Jake Lindsey’s senior season is going to be delayed a year.
The Baylor guard will miss the upcoming season after undergoing hip surgery, he announced Sunday.
“I will be redshirting this season as I recover from hip surgery,” Lindsey wrote on Twitter. “I can’t wait to help the team this year in a different role as I recover. I want to say thank you to everyone who has been helping me in this time, whether you know it or not.”
Now that it’s out there, I will be redshirting this season as I recover from hip surgery. I can’t wait to help the team this year in a different role as I recover. I want to say thank you to everyone who has been helping me in this time, whether you know it or not. God bless
The 6-foot-5 guard has averaged more than 20 minutes per game the last two seasons as a 3-point shooting specialist and distributor. He averaged just 4.5 points per game last season, but dished out 3.4 assists while shooting 34.1 percent from distance (down from 40.4 percent as a sophomore). He will have one season of eligibility remaining in 2019-20 after sitting out this season.
Lindsey, whose father Dennis is the general manager of the Utah Jazz, battled the hip injury throughout much of last season, but did not miss any games as a result. His loss will be acute for the Bears, who lost four seniors off last year’s No. 1 seed NIT team including point guard Manu Lecomte.
Just like Kentucky did two weeks ago, the Duke Blue Devils spent last week traveling abroad to play in exhibition games that were televised.
Kentucky went south, heading to the Bahamas.
Duke made the trip up north so that Canadian R.J. Barrett would have a chance to play in front of his home crowd.
And while it was a little bit easier to see what Kentucky will have a chance to be this season — we’ll get into why that is later — we did get our first chance to see what Duke could look like.
Here are the four things that we learned:
R.J. BARRETT IS THE TRUTH, BUT ZION WILLIAMSON SHOULD LIVE UP TO THE HYPE
At this point, everyone should know more or less what R.J. Barrett is.
He was the consensus No. 1 player in the Class of 2018 despite the fact that he reclassified last summer. (He turned 18 this summer, meaning that he is enrolling in college in what would be considered the normal year.) There is a long way to go still, but he is thought to be head and shoulders above the rest of the field when it comes to the race for the No. 1 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. Last summer, he put 38 points, 13 boards and six assists on the USA team at the U-19 World Cup, which became first time since 2011 that USA Basketball was not the reigning champion at any age group in international competition.
Put another way, seeing Barrett steamroll a bunch of Canadian college basketball players should not be surprising if you know what he did against a team that included the likes of Carsen Edwards, Kevin Huerter, P.J. Washington and Romeo Langford, not to mention Barrett’s current Duke teammate, Cam Reddish. In three games, he averaged 30.7 points, 8.0 boards and 5.0 assists.
What was more eye-opening was the way that Zion Williamson played.
Williamson is college basketball’s first superstar of the internet age. His other-worldly athleticism has turned him into a social media machine. He has 1.7 million followers on Instagram. There are YouTube channels that have sprung to life simply because they were able to post his high school dunk. When he was a junior in high school, Drake wore his jersey. Every teenage basketball fan knows who he is.
The question about Williamson has long been whether or not he is more than just an athlete. He never left his local South Carolina high school, which is why those viral videos of him dunking often looked like he was playing against, well, me. He played on the Adidas circuit in high school, which is good but is not at the same level as the EYBL. I’m not sure there is a person on the planet that can match his explosiveness and quickness while checking in at 6-foot-7 and 285 pounds, as Duke lists him, but the question about his potential as a pro has always been what will happen when he is not longer on another planet athletically.
And at the risk of overreacting to three exhibition games against overmatched competition, I am much more bullish on him as a prospect today than I was a week ago.
There are three reasons for that:
Williamson has a higher basketball IQ and is a better passer than I realized. It’s the little moments that give it away: finding a shooter after an offensive rebound, seeing a backdoor cut even if the pass he threw was not good enough to get the assist, the outlet passes he would throw to streaking guards before he even landed after grabbing a defensive rebound. He reads the game.
He’s underrated as a ball-handler. He’s also hardly a finished product there, but he has good enough handle that he can be a sensation as a grab-and-go big in transition and will be able to beat bigger (well, slower, he’s pretty big) defenders off the bounce. That’s key because his shooting still needs work.
He just plays so damn hard. When someone his size with his leaping ability decides that they want to go and get a rebound, how are you going to stop him? And while things like handle or shooting or defensive positioning can be taught, ‘motor’ cannot.
Williamson probably could stand to lose 20 or 25 pounds*, which will likely also help with him improving on his conditioning; he seemed to tire for stretches in these exhibitions, which is understandable considering the load he and Barrett carried and the fact that, you know, he is 285 pounds. And that jumper needs some consistency.
But those are fairly easy problems to fix, all things considered.
Which is why I think Williamson is going to come much closer to living up to the hype than I did before this trip.
*(The “Zion is fine at 285” crowd annoys me. Yes, he’ll be just fine playing at 285 pounds or whatever he is. But if he’s able to do all of this while carrying baby weight around, imagine what he’ll do once he streamlines his body.)
DUKE’S DEPTH IS GOING TO BE AN ISSUE
Duke had a bunch of injuries on this trip.
Cam Reddish didn’t play. Tre Jones didn’t play. Alex O’Connell lasted all of three minutes in the first game before fracturing a bone in his face. That’s three of Duke’s top six players heading into next season.
Without those three, Duke was forced to start the likes of Jack White, Antonio Vrankovic and Jordan Goldwire in lineups that included both Javin DeLaurier and Marques Bolden. I expect White will play a larger role this season because, if nothing else, he’s going to be one of the best shooters on the roster and can play a forward spot. Goldwire is fine as a point guard off the bench, I guess, and Vrankovic is big enough and serviceable enough to play emergency minutes.
Those guys are fine for the end of the bench, but the problem that will arise is that “the end of Duke’s bench” looks like it is going to start with the eighth man.
And that’s assuming that Marques Bolden becomes a trusted part of Coach K’s rotation. In the three exhibitions in Canada, Bolden played a total of just 39 minutes, missing all three of his shot attempts without taking a single free throw while grabbing all of nine rebounds.
Duke plays the majority of this season with a six-man rotation, using O’Connell off the bench to spell whoever needs a rest and allowing Williamson to play the five when Javin DeLaurier needs a blow.
Depth is something that I think is overrated in college basketball given how many TV timeouts there are during a game. Villanova has won two of the last three national titles despite using rotations that end at seven guys. Syracuse routinely makes runs in March with teams that have just five or six guys that see minutes. It’s great to have 13 players on scholarship that can contribute, but only five of them can see the floor at a time. When your best players are going to get 30-35 minutes a night, having too many guys that deserve to play can lead to discontentment.
So I’m not sure this is going to cripple Duke’s season.
But in a sport where titles are won in one-game knockout tournaments, a poorly-timed sprained ankle or some simple foul trouble can be a killer.
THIS TEAM IS GOING TO BE SO MUCH FUN TO WATCH
If there is one thing that we can learn from the way that Duke played in Canada, it’s that this team is likely going to play fast, fast, fast.
I’m not sure there will be any player in the college basketball this year that can grab-and-go the way that Barrett and Williamson can, and that’s before you even factor in that Reddish — a silky 6-foot-8 wing — will be able to do the same thing, and that Tre Jones will actually be the point guard on this roster.
Imagine being an opposing point guard and seeing Barrett or Williamson come at you with a full head of steam in transition. That’s nightmare fuel.
This group is also switchable defensively, and I’ve been told that they have already been tinkering with lineups that allow Williamson to play the five, a la the ‘Death Lineup’ that the Golden State Warriors roll out with Draymond Green playing center.
There is a lot to like about this group, but that leads me to my single-biggest concern about this team …
… DUKE IS GOING TO HAVE TO FIND SHOOTING SOMEWHERE
Part of the reason I think Duke is going to be a transition-heavy team is that they have the players to thrive in that kind of a system.
But I also think that it will partly be by necessity, as Duke has a roster that is loaded with perimeter talent without having all that much perimeter shooting.
Put another way, Villanova made small-ball work for them last season because every single player in their top six was a lethal three-point shooter. Golden State makes it work because they have three of the greatest shooters in the history of the sport on the roster.
Barrett? The biggest knock on him as a prospect is that he is an inconsistent shooter, and that was backed up by a 6-for-21 (28%) performance in Canada. The same thing can be said about Williamson, who shot 3-for-9 (33%) from three on the trip, and one of his three makes was a ball that bricked off the back of the rim, hit the backboard and happened to drop in. Reddish and Jones are both guys that can make threes, but they are probably better described as scorers more than shooters.
Throw in someone like a DeLaurier or a Bolden, and suddenly the paint gets awfully clogged.
I currently have Duke sitting at No. 4 in the NBC Sports Preseason Top 25 — behind Kansas, Gonzaga and Kentucky — because of those question marks from beyond the arc.
This trip did nothing to alleviate those concerns.
VIDEO: Duke’s Zion Williamson takes flight in final exhibition win
Duke played this trip short-handed and against competition that wasn’t exactly overwhelming, but the Blue Devils still looked pretty impressive steam-rolling the teams they did play.
And while I say “the Blue Devils”, I really mean Zion Williamson and R.J. Barrett. Barrett is widely considered the better prospect, but Williamson was the one that put on a show all weekend, and today’s game against McGill was no different.
Providence freshman David Duke Jr. takes flight in Italy
Having reached the NCAA tournament in each of the last five seasons, the Providence basketball program has begun its preparations for a run at a sixth straight appearance in Italy.
Ed Cooley’s team, which beat the Varese All-Stars by a final score of 113-46 on Thursday, was back in action Saturday with the Adriatic Sea Dragons serving as the opposition. And during one sequence freshman guard David Duke Jr., part of a highly-anticipated recruiting class, showed exactly why so many have been high on the Providence native since he made his commitment to stay home.
Duke stole a pass in the backcourt and then took off towards the basket, with a backpedaling defender serving as “resistance.” The end result was a lesson in what can happen when you wind up underneath the basket, and the man with the ball is a high-level finisher.
Much is expected from Providence’s four-member freshman class, but there’s plenty to expect from the returnees as well. Alpha Diallo is one of the Big East’s best wing talents, and contributors such as Kalif Young, Nate Watson and Makai Ashton-Langford appear poised to take a step forward in 2018-19.
Add in the return of Emmitt Holt, whose minutes are being limited in Italy after an abdominal issue sidelined him for all of last season, and Providence has the tools needed to not only make another NCAA tournament appearance but contend in the Big East as well.
R.J. Barrett, Zion Williamson combine for 59 in Duke win
Two days removed from a win over Ryerson in the first of three exhibition games the team will play in Canada, Duke took on the University of Toronto Friday afternoon in Mississauga, Ontario. And as was the case Wednesday, prized freshmen R.J. Barrett and Zion Williamson led the way in the Blue Devils’ 96-60 victory.
Barrett, who scored 34 points against McGill, tallied 35 on Friday while Williamson added another 24. Duke finished the game with three double-digit scorers as Joey Baker, who’s also a freshman, added 11 off the bench.
Duke hasn’t been able to use its full roster in Canada, as freshmen Cam Reddish and Tre Jones are both being held out due to health concerns. Reddish is nursing a groin strain, while Jones is recovering from a hip injury suffered before he arrived at Duke. The Blue Devils were down another rotation player Friday, as guard Alex O’Connell suffered a broken orbital bone during Wednesday’s game.
While those absences have given Barrett and Williamson even more opportunities to shine with the basketball in their hands, it also opens the door for other players to make a positive impression on Mike Krzyzewski and the rest of the coaching staff. On Friday it was Baker who took advantage, with Antonio Vrankovic (eight points, eight rebounds) and Jack White (six points, five assists) being two other players who performed well off the bench.
Duke wraps up its trip with a game against McGill Sunday afternoon in Montreal.