Sunday, March 8, 2015

Starting Five: Big weekend at Cal

THE RIVALS150: 2015 | 2016
California had an important visit weekend, Kansas State landed a point guard recruit, state tournaments are in full swing and Kassoum Yakwe is on the rise. We look at that and more in this week's Starting Five.
Big weekend for Cal

Five-star Ivan Rabb may be down to Cal and Arizona.
Maybe it is unfair to say Cuonzo Martin and his staff at California just wrapped up the most important recruiting weekend since they took the job last spring. But, it is quite likely true.
The Bears hosted five-star big men Ivan Rabb and Caleb Swanigan along with Rivals150 wing Davon Dillard. On the floor, they took care of business, defeating Oregon State on Senior Day. By Sunday afternoon, they'd already landed a commitment, too, as Dillard committed during his official visit.
The first commitment to Cal's 2015 class is no doubt an important one. Dillard is physical, tough and can be a very athletic finisher driving to the rim. However, what happens with Rabb and Swanigan is a big deal.
A local player from nearby Oakland (Calif.) Bishop O'Dowd, the 6-foot-10 Rabb has been by campus since Martin arrived. Given that most other programs had been recruiting Rabb since his freshman season, there has definitely been ground to make up with the No. 8 player. He's seen Kentucky and he's seen Arizona and has said he still plans to visit UCLA and Kansas, but Rabb was at Cal over the weekend the Bears have thrown everything they have at him in hopes of keeping him home.
While Rabb has done a good job of not tipping his hand, the general feeling in the recruiting world is that his recruitment has likely turned into a battle between California and Arizona. Rabb has no timetable set for his decision, but it wouldn't be a huge surprise to start seeing some movement towards a decision sooner than later.
At this point, Swanigan appears that he might be a bit more of a longshot for Cal and at the least he will likely take longer to decide than Rabb. But, Martin and his staff have worked his recruitment hard and have some long standing relationships with members of Swanigan's inner circle. Swanigan has also been to Arizona, Duke, Purdue, Kentucky and Michigan State during the season.
K-State lands point guard
In the last week, Kansas State scored huge home wins over Kansas and Iowa State. A huge factor in those wins was the play of sophomore point guard Nigel Johnson who was relatively unheralded three-star prospect when the Wildcats signed him out of Upper Marlboro (Md.) Riverdale Baptist.
The Wildcats are hoping to catch that kind of lightning in a bottle again with the addition of three-star point guard Kamau Stokes, who committed after an official visit to Manhattan over the weekend.
Like Johnson, Stokes -- who is from Baltimore and playing a prep year at Fork Union (Va.) Military -- is a relatively unheralded prospect and he's from the same area of the country. At around 5-foot-10 and 160 pounds, Stokes is perhaps a bit undersized as a Big 12 point guard recruit, but he does shoot the ball pretty well from deep and he is certainly quick. Most notably, Stokes plays the game with a lot of heart.
Stokes is now the fifth member of K-State's 2015 class. He joins Rivals150 power forward Dean Wade, three-star Florida combo guard Barry Brown, three-star Texas big man Dante Williams and three-star Baltimore power forward Eric Cobb in the Wildcats recruiting class.
Yakwe takes off as junior

Kassoum Yakwe has seemingly found his game as a junior.
As a freshman, Centereach (N.Y.) Our Savior forward Kassoum Yakwe flashed loads of potential. He was long, lean, quick, bouncy around the rim and could make a mid-range jump shot.
The second year and summer of high school, Yakwe battled injuries and a bit of an on-the-floor identity crisis. Now as a junior, the 6-foot-8 power forward has taken his game to a new level and his stock is soaring.
Currently ranked No. 115 in the class of 2016 Rivals150, Yakwe has far outplayed his ranking and is shining on the floor. There is no uncertainty to his game and he is playing to his strengths. This winter, Yakwe has emerged as a high energy man on the glass, defensive pest and a guy who can use his athleticism and motor to make things happen on the offensive end.
He has become one of the hottest prospects in the country with programs like Connecticut, Iowa, Iowa State, Kansas, Oregon, Pittsburgh, St. John's, Villanova and others offering scholarships.
Yakwe is currently on his first official visit, to Iowa State, and it wouldn't be a surprise to see more visits set in the near future.
Anunoby raw with promise
Friday night, was at Kansas City (Mo.) Rockhurst High to watch three-star forward O.G. Anunoby, who was in town with Jefferson City (Mo.) High for a game. A 6-foot-7 wing who signed with Indiana, Anunoby didn't have his best game, scoring 11 points as Jeff City fell to Rockhurst, but there's lots to consider with him.
Though he has enough size to play some on the interior, Anunoby has proven as a senior that he is a legitimate wing player. He handles the ball fairly well, his shot looks like it can be worked with and with his length and athleticism, he rates well in terms of physical characteristics. What he has in athletic gifts and potentials at this point, Anunoby seems to lack a little in terms of polish and consistency.
On Friday night, Anunoby looked a little sluggish and never really sought out ways to flaunt the size and athleticism advantage he had. He settled at times for jumpers and probably wasn't quite as strong on the glass as he could have been. Then again, he showed flashes of serious potential as well.
Physically, Anunoby is very similar to a young Bill (now Henry) Walker. He has a sturdy base with long arms and can explode in traffic. He is not yet the overall player Walker was at the same stage, and he's not tracking like a big impact freshman like Walker was. However, there is clearly potential with Anunoby and he has the tools to develop into a very good player before his time at Indiana is done.
State tourney tid-bits

Sacha Killeya-Jones is trending updwards.
It is state playoff time in most states and each year, more and more tournament games are available to watch on television or online. Last week, was able to watch games from places like Florida, Alabama, Virginia, California, Utah and more because of it. Here are some observations from games we were able to watch.
From the class of 2018, power forward Jordan Brown from Roseville (Calif.) Woodcreek has to be way up on the list of most talented freshmen in the country. A skinny and athletic 6-foot-8 insider, Brown has good hands, soft touch and can really run the floor. got a first look at him at USA Basketball's fall workout in October and the promise he showed there was confirmed over the weekend. The class of 2018 won't be ranked for a while, but Brown has all of the tools to be an elite prospect in that class.
Hayward (Calif.) Moreau Catholic's Oscar Frayer and Damari Milstead both looked good. A four-star junior small forward who is already committed to Cal, Frayer looks like he has really learned to use his explosive athleticism to his advantage. Because Moreau lacks size, he has to do a lot of interior dirty work and his play both on the glass and as a transition finisher was outstanding. His jump shot still needs polish, but he backed up his status as the No. 70 ranked player in the 2016 Rivals150. Only a sophomore, Milstead was in the discussion for 2017 top 75 released last week and he looked like a player who will merit more discussion for the rankings as the class of 2017 moves ahead. A wiry floor general, the three-star prospect showed good instincts passing the ball, kept defenders off balance as a threat from deep and utilized a pretty well-developed mid-range game.
Virginia commit Sacha Killeya-Jones (No. 113 in 2016) looks like he is trending upwards. Still skinny, he showed good touch, an improved motor and good upside in Lynchburg (Va.) Virginia Episcopal's state championship game loss to St. George's (Va.) Blue Ridge. Despite facing a big deficit, Killeya-Jones played hard on both ends throughout the game.
In Alabama, 2016 star Joshua Langford helped lead Madison (Ala.) Academy to a state title. The most important thing wanted to see with Langford was how he looked physically and he appears to be in top shape and back to 100 percent after a summer of 2014 that was wrecked by injuries. Also in Alabama, Alabama commitment Dazon Ingram was very intriguing to watch. A 6-foot-4 guard, Ingram looks a little wild right now and his jump shot needs work. But, he is a big ball-handler, has some good instincts and looks like a player who could have pretty big upside down the road.

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