Originally committed to be part of Texas A&M’s highly regarded 2015 recruiting class, combo guard Raquan Mitchell did not join Billy Kennedy’s program this fall. Mitchell would eventually be cleared academically, and on Saturday he announced that he’ll be a Memphis Tiger.
What isn’t clear is when the 6-foot-4 Miami native would be able to officially join the Memphis program. According to L. Jason Smith of the Memphis Commercial-Appeal, there’s a chance that Mitchell would be able to join the Tigers this season. Whether that is the case immediately, or if he’d have to wait until the fall semester ends in December, is what’s up for debate.
Memphis can use another body on the perimeter given recent developments. Chris Hawkins is unlikely to play this season, as revealed by head coach Josh Pastner earlier this week according to the Commercial-Appeal, and senior Kedren Johnson is dealing with a shoulder injury that could sideline him for the entire season.
Mitchell gives Memphis an athletic guard capable of making plays on or off the basketball, but given the timing of the move it’s up for debate if he can be a contributor immediately.
Nearly two months after it was announced that he was not cleared academically and therefore would not be a member of the Alabama basketball program, one of the top shooting guards in the Class of 2015 received some good news Thursday.
As first reported by Scout.com, four-star shooting guard Kobie Eubanks has recorded the SAT score he needed in order to qualify for an athletic scholarship. The news leaves Eubanks, who originally committed to Baylor before reopening his recruitment last November, with two possibilities to choose from.
He can either join a program that’s on the quarter system right now, or he could wait until December to do so. The latter option would give him a higher number of possibilities to choose from, with many Division I programs on the semester calendar. Whichever path Eubanks chooses to take, the program that lands him will get a talented guard who can both knock down shots from the perimeter and get to the basket off the dribble.
Eubanks was expected to be a contributor for an Alabama team that lost its top three perimeter scorers from last season.
Arizona freshman guard Allonzo Trier is entering the program with a lot of hype after being named a McDonald’s All-American and five-star prospect.
With the loss of perimeter options like T.J. McConnell and Stanley Johnson from last year’s Elite Eight team, Trier could be counted on to be a perimeter scoring option nearly right away. Here’s some highlights of the 6-foot-4 Trier from his senior season at Findlay Prep.
(H/T: Courtside Films)
Pitt announced a very late addition to its roster as the program signed junior college combo guard Jonathan Milligan. The 6-foot-2 Milligan averaged 14.3 points, 2.6 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game at Kilgore College last season and helped the team to a 21-9 record.
He’ll give the Panthers another experienced guard to fight for a spot in the rotation this season.
“We are fortunate to be able to add a guard of Jonathan’s caliber at this point in the year,” Pitt head coach Jamie Dixon said in the release. “He is a promising combo guard who received a lot of high major interest out of high school and while he was at Kilgore College. He has the ability to score from a variety of spots on the floor and break down defense by getting into the lane. He also has the quickness and instincts to be an outstanding defender in our program.”
While James Robinson returns to the Panthers for his senior season, he averaged nearly 34 minutes per game last season and the addition of Milligan can hopefully help give him some time on the bench to rest. Coppin State graduate transfer Sterling Smith also joined Pitt at shooting guard and combo guard Damon Wilson is a true freshman recruit. Cameron Johnson also returns for his redshirt freshman season after sitting out most of last season after left shoulder surgery.
The perimeter group for Pitt is inexperienced but Milligan’s addition does give them some more depth.
First-year St. John’s head coach Chris Mullin landed an important recruit Sunday afternoon, as NBCSports.com confirmed that four-star power forward Kassoum Yakwe picked the Big East program over Oregon. News of Yakwe’s commitment was first reported by Andrew Slater of 247Sports.com.
Yakwe, like four-star shooting guard Shamorie Ponds, was viewed as an important prospect for St. John’s for a variety of reasons. One, there’s the 6-foot-8 forward’s ability as a defender and rebounder that can give the Red Storm a much-needed boost in the post. Secondly, the Mali native played his high school basketball locally (Our Savior New American) and keeping local players home was an issue for the prior regime.
It should be noted, however, that Yakwe credited former St. John’s head coach Steve Lavin for getting the ball rolling on his recruitment three years ago.
“Coach (Steve) Lav(in) did a great job of recruiting me for three years. He deserves credit for helping me to learn about the school. My friend and teammate Felix Balamou has been great about helping me know what it’s like at St. John’s. I built a really good relationship with the coaching staff since April. Matt (Abdelmassih) has been the lead recruiter and he’s been recruiting me since Iowa State. Now, when he came back to New York, Matt’s been recruiting me to St. John’s. He’s one of the main reasons why I chose St. John’s, but I also liked the facilities and I wanted to stay local. Those are the main reasons,” added Kassoum Yakwe.
Yakwe, who was a member of the Class of 2016, will reclassify into 2015 and if cleared (Kansas’ Cheick Diallo, who also attended OSNA, has yet to be cleared himself) will be a key player for St. John’s this season. St. John’s lone returnees in the front court, Christian Jones and Amar Alibegovic, both averaged fewer than ten minutes per game last season. They’ll be joined by newcomers Yakwe, Darien Williams and Yankuba Sima (Tennessee transfer Tariq Owens will have to sit out the 2015-16 campaign).
Provided he’s cleared to play there’s room for Yakwe to make an impact defensively as a freshman for the Red Storm, and they’ll need him to do so if they’re to be formidable in Mullin’s first season at the helm. Now with Yakwe on board, the staff can continue its work to keep Ponds (who attends Jefferson HS in Brooklyn) in the city as well.
Rhode Island’s three-member 2015 recruiting class took a hit Wednesday night, and with that so did the Rams’ front court rotation ahead of a season in which they hope to reach the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1999.
Leroy Butts, a 6-foot-8 three-star power forward from Upper Marlboro, Maryland, will not enroll at the school for the fall semester as reported by Bill Koch of the Providence Journal. Per the report, the NCAA has flagged Butts’ standardized test school, thus preventing him from joining the program in the fall.
Butts can retake his standardized test, and a satisfactory score would allow him to enroll at URI mid-year or he could attend prep school for the entire 2015-16 academic year. No decision has been made in regards to either course of action.
Butts was expected to join a front court rotation led by junior Hassan Martin, who has developed into one of the top forwards in the Atlantic 10. In addition to Martin, head coach Dan Hurley welcomes back seniors Ifeanyi Onyekaba and Earl Watson, and adds freshman Nicola Akele. The Rams will also have transfer Kuran Iverson, who received a waiver that makes him eligible to play at the start of the season following his arrival from Memphis.
Having Butts would have given Rhode Island another option to call upon in the front court, but even with his delayed enrollment the Rams will have depth in 2015-16.