Bill Self recently said that he believes his 2012 recruiting class is “good” but that he and his staff are still looking to add one or two more players to make it “great.” I think most people immediately assumed he was referring to his pursuit of the #1 2012 blue chip, Las Vegas’ Shabazz Muhammad. But with Shabazz being somewhat of a long-shot to end up in Lawrence next year, I thought it would be worth exploring who else Self could be courting into the Spring.
First, it is worth stating that all of KU’s scholarships are completely spoken for. Certainly Thomas Robinson is nearly a lock to head to the NBA next year and Elijah could have a look if he goes on a run into postseason play. There are also a few candidates to transfer as well. Merv comes to mind.
Of course if Self is faced with a can’t-miss player wanting to come play for him, he’ll find a scholarship. (Sidenote: I’ve always enjoyed those people that get riled up about the number of schollies available. If good players are out there, we always have a scholarship available. One way or another.)
There might also be an issue with all of the 2012 players qualifying to play. I don’t have any insider information on it, but I do know that we’ve obviously had our issues in the past when it comes to qualifying.
Of course he may also be referring to the guys that haven’t officially signed on the dotted line yet — Anrio Adams and Andrew White.
Just for fun, let’s take a look at who is out there that could still possibly end up in Lawrence next year. I’ll rank them by how likely I believe they will be here.
(1) Geron Johnson, 6’3 Guard
Overview: I recently reviewed Johnson here a few weeks ago when it sounded like Kansas might be more interested in adding him. He is a 6’3 combo guard with a versatile offensive game and good size. He has had somewhat of a checkered past, however, as he battled off-court issues until his time at Garden City Community College. Assuming he keeps his focus on school and basketball this year, he’ll likely be playing Div. I basketball somewhere next year. He’s currently averaging 18+ points for GC, though the basketball part has never been his problem. He was a top 100 Rivals player out of high school.
My take: I get the sense that he would like to come to Kansas, but I don’t get the sense that he has necessarily been guaranteed a scholarship yet. While I would like to see Self add another guard to this class as insurance for Anrio Adams as well as any potential transfer, I don’t think Johnson will be first on his list. However, I do believe based on proximity and need, Johnson could be in Lawrence next year. It depends on how long he is willing to wait to see if a scholarship will be there.
(2) JaKarr Sampson, 6’8 Small Forward
Overview: Sampson originally signed with St. John’s last year, but was ruled ineligible, so he returned to Brewster Academy and has since put in the work to get back into his college recruitment. He is very long and athletic, with rangy arms and impressive defensive acumen. On the offensive side of the ball, he still needs to work on his jump shot, but he has no problem finishing at the rim. He’ll need to continue working, but based on his potential alone, he was the 51st ranked player by Rivals in the 2011 class.
My take: I think Sampson does legitimately like Kansas. We recruited him the first time around, and both Self and Dooley have maintained contact with him and his coach. He has not taken any visits yet this year, but does seemingly plan to do so in the spring. While I do believe he could fit into KU’s system nicely, he might be scared off by the number of guys Kansas has that can play small forward next year. That being said, he was a part of a 9-man recruiting class to St. John’s so perhaps he isn’t afraid of some competition. Speaking of competition, in addition to KU, Sampson has heard from Pittsburgh, Providence, Florida, Baylor, Connecticut, and Louisville. Might be a tough one to get.
(3) Luke Cothron, 6’9 Power Forward
Overview: Similar to the above two prospects, Cothron has had a bumpy road to Division I basketball. He was a top prospect in his 2010 class, Rivals ranking him 45th overall and 11th at the PF position. He committed to Auburn over Connecticut, Kentucky, and Tennessee. However, he didn’t qualify and eventually landed at UMass. He became homesick and journeyed to the University of New Orleans. He eventually left there too and ended up at the College of Southern Idaho, where he’s stayed until now. Cothron has a variety of low post moves and has a good motor for rebounding the ball as well. He has a great frame and can still add muscle to his already strong upper body.
My take: Cothron told me via twitter that he had plans to visit Kansas, but that has not happened yet. The skills are definitely there, but it’s hard to say whether Self has earnestly offered him yet. Per @scoutsfocus on twitter, Cothron has said that he has offers from Kansas, Baylor, UNLV, and Memphis, but I’m not sure it has been confirmed. If Cothron ends up on campus for a visit, I’ll give this one a much higher shot, but until then, I do not think Cothron will end up in Lawrence.
(4) Tony Parker, 6’9 Center
Overview: Parker is one of the last remaining Class 2012 blue chip prospects that has yet to commit. He is a huge kid at 6’9, 250 pounds, and uses all of his strength and mass well in the low block. For a big (round) guy, he has great post moves and really good hands. He uses all of his size to control the paint when he has the ball, but does not have the same presence on defense as he tends to play below the rim. He has had some troubles with staying in shape, but if he were to end up in a good strength and conditioning program, he could be a huge force down low.
My take: Because Self was confident that he was going to land his number one Center prospect in Kaleb Tarczewski, he did not put in much work into back-up plans at that position. Once Tarczewski committed to Arizona, Self hit the recruiting trail hard on both Parker and Landen Lucas. Parker has stated recently that Kansas has come on strong, but schools like Duke, UCLA, Ohio State, Memphis, Georgetown and Georgia have been there from the beginning. Not to mention Kansas will go from no depth in the post this year to having Withey, Traylor, Lucas, Peters, and Ellis all down low next year. I highly doubt Parker visits Kansas and would not recommend getting too tied up in his recruitment until a visit is imminent.
(5) Shabazz Muhammad, 6’6 Small Forward
Overview: Shabazz is the #1 player in the 2012 class and is much deserving of such an honor. In short, he is a brilliant basketball player, with an exceptional mid-range game and an ability to get to the rim and finish hard. He’ll have no problem scoring on the collegiate level and will likely be drafted very early in the 2013 draft.
My take: I am keeping this one short because I think Kansas is a long shot in this recruitment. While he has said that he plans to visit Kansas, I am skeptical. Those much closer to his recruitment have said that he’ll eventually end up at Duke, Kentucky, UCLA, or UNLV. He is an extremely talented player, but at times it seems like he also has an extremely talented publicist. It seems like his team’s motive is to keep his name in the papers at all the blue blood schools to keep the hype alive. Not to say I don’t think he’s worth hyping. He is. But I don’t think he’ll end up in Lawrence.
(6) Savon Goodman, 6’6 Combo Guard/SF
Overview: Goodman committed to his hometown Villanova in late 2010 but then decommitted in 2011 and opened up his recruitment again. He is Rivals’ 53rd ranked player in the class of 2012. At one point, there was speculation that Goodman would have to reclassify to the 2013 class due to some academic concerns. However, he has indicated that he still plans to sign in 2012. He is an excellent scorer and can aggressively drive the lane and get to the basket. He does need to work on his jump shot and 3-point shooting.
My take: Kansas recruited Goodman the first time around, but there has been very little smoke with his name and Kansas the second time around. While quite a few schools have expressed interest in Goodman, I think there is some concern that he may not qualify. I put him in here because at one time Kansas did have interest, and that interest could be rekindled if there is some indication that he will, in fact, qualify for the 2012 class.
(7) Wanaah Bail, 6’8 Small Forward
Overview: Bail is originally from the Bahamas and has landed in Texas. He has transferred high schools multiple times and has had some difficulty staying eligible. When on the court, he has excelled as a versatile small forward with enormous athleticism. His speed at 6’8 is a huge plus and he excels on the baseline with a good first step.
My take: Bail claims he still has a number of offers from high major programs such as Houston, Indiana, Arkansas, Louisville, Marquette, Texas, Baylor, San Francisco, Arizona State and South Florida. He says he’s also got interest from Kansas, Oklahoma, Maryland, Arizona, Miami (Fl.), USC, Nebraska and Boston College. Similar to Goodman above, the name Kansas has been mentioned with Bail so I wanted to provide some information. That said, I do not see him ending up here.
(8) Nino Jackson, 6’2 Point Guard
Overview: From a talent perspective, Jackson may be the best on this entire post outside of Shabazz. Unfortunately, Jackson has not been able to display his talent much this year due to academic and and other off-court issues. There are rumors that the Ardmore, OK guard got caught up in some things that he shouldn’t have outside of school. He’s somewhat of an internet legend around these parts as Kansas fans enjoyed his hints that Self and Co. led for his services at one point. Then, in the matter of about a year, he went from one tattoo to a hundred (check out his twitter profile @SoufSide_FlyGuy for a look), skipped a lot of school, and has had coaches seemingly keep him at arm’s length while still keeping one eye on the situation. When he’s on the court, he is a fantastic scorer, with good 3-point range and ball handling skills. While he’s listed at point guard, he’s probably more of a combo guard.
My take: It does sound like Nino may be back in school now. I heard somewhere that he enrolled in a program to help him get caught up with his classmates on academics. Hopefully he will find whatever he needs to find to get him back on track because it would be shame to let all of that talent go to waste. With the spring period rapidly approaching, I would be shocked if Nino ends up being recruited in the 2012 class to a Division I program. More likely, he’ll either end up reclassifying or going to a junior college to prove to coaches that he has his priorities back in line. I’d love for him to be at KU, but only if Self does too. I’m not sure we’re there yet.