One of the top power forwards in the Class of 2016 has yet to play a game on American soil, but that hasn’t stopped high-level Division I programs from looking to land his commitment. Lauri Markkanen, a skilled 6-foot-10 forward from Finland, was on the receiving end of a lot of recruiting attention before he trimmed his list to Arizona, North Carolina and Utah in early July.
And according to Scout.com, Markkanen (who played very well at the FIBA U18 European Championships this summer) has taken the next step in his recruitment by setting up official visits to each of those schools within a one-week span in mid-October.
Markannen will first visit Utah the weekend of October 11, going from there to Chapel Hill (October 13-14) and finishing up in Tucson (October 16-17). That’s quite the journey for Markannen, who is an important recruit for each of the three schools left on his list.
Arizona, which has three seniors in its front court for the 2015-16 season, lost its lone 2016 commit earlier this week as five-star forward T.J. Leaf decided to reopen his recruitment. That decision leaves Sean Miller with Dusan Ristic and Chance Commanche as his only big men with eligibility remaining beyond the upcoming season.
North Carolina has two seniors (Joel James and Brice Johnson) and two juniors (Kennedy Meeks and Isaiah Hicks) in its front court rotation for the 2015-16 season, with freshman Luke Maye being the lone underclassman. While that experience will be a good thing for a team labeled by many as both an early favorite in the ACC and a national title contender, it also means that Roy Williams and his staff have some work to do in their 2016 recruiting efforts.
Utah has upperclassmen in its front court as either Arizona or North Carolina (Jordan Loveridge is a senior and Chris Reyes and Gabe Bealer are both juniors), but there’s also the need to account for the possible departure of sophomore Jakob Poeltl as well. Poeltl considered leaving school after just one season before deciding to return, a situation that has Larry Krystkowiak and his staff working the recruiting trail to account for a draft decision to go the other way in 2016.