Basketball Recruiting - Cassidy's Takeaways: New York City Invitational
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Cassidy's Takeaways: New York City Invitational

Zion Cruz
Zion Cruz (Rivals.com)

NEW YORK CITY -- The Saturday session of the New York Invitational ran from Noon until after 10 o'clock, and Rivals.com was on hard for every game of the event. The Empire State talent didn't disappoint, either. Below, Rivals’ Rob Cassidy discusses his takeaways from the event and shares three New York-area freshmen that may make serious noise down the road.

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More from Cassidy: Five interesting transfers

2021 Rankings: Rivals150 | Team | Position

2022 Rankings: Rivals150 | Team | Position

2023 Rankings: Top 30

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ZION CRUZ HAS LIST OF THREE SCHOOLS HE KNOWS HE WILL VISIT

Five-star guard Zion Cruz usually plays his recruitment close to the vest. The No. 16 player in the 2022 class doesn’t discuss his college options in much detail and certainly never names favorites. On Saturday, however, the tight-lipped star tossed out a bit of actual news.

Cruz may not have a group of favorites, but he does have a shortlist of programs he knows he will visit when the dead period ends and he gets the green light to do so.

“For sure, it’s going to be Auburn, Georgia and Florida State,” Cruz said on Saturday. “I want to visit those for sure.”

But while Cruz has those destinations in mind and plans to tour the campuses of all three universities, he’s also sure to reiterate that he’s nowhere near making a decision or officially narrowing his list.

“I’m talking to everybody and keeping my options open right now,” he said. “I’m not too worried about [picking a school] right now. I’m just waiting to take visits.”

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KYLE FLIPOWSKI IS UNDER-RANKED AND HIGH ON THREE SCHOOLS

Kyle Flipowski
Kyle Flipowski (Rivals.com)

Kyle Flipowski played much better than his three-star ranking on Saturday evening, as the No. 117 player in the 2022 class showcased a well-rounded game that included long-range shooting, scoring at the bucket and rebounding on both ends.

After making a statement on the floor, the 6-foot-9 power forward went on record discussing the three schools in the thick of the race to land his commitment.

Ohio State, Iowa and UCLA are probably the teams coming at me the hardest, I want to visit all three and a bunch of others when I can,” Flipowsi said. “My teammate Roddy [Gayle] stays on me about Ohio State. He just committed there and is really trying to get me to go there, so we’ll see.”

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NOAH BEST IN CONTACT WITH ILLINOIS AND HOFSTRA 

Noah Best
Noah Best (Rivals.com)

Three-star guard Noah Best shined for the Riverside Hawks on Saturday, scoring at all three levels and playing the brand of tenacious defense that has garnered him some recruiting buzz despite not having much of a high school season of which to speak. Following his game, he said Hofstra and Illinois are the teams most involved with his recruitment.

“Right now it’s mainly Illinois and Hofstra, with Hofstra talking to me most. I still want to keep my options open to see what happens. Speedy [Claxton] is my guy. We talk a lot. He checks in to see how I’m doing and making sure I’m healthy and all that.

“With Illinois, it slowed down a little during the tournament but we texted after the loss and they want me to visit after the pandemic, so I want to do that.”

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LEMOND BACKS UP RANKING, TALKS RECRUITMENT 

The highest-ranked 2023 prospect at the event, Jayden Lemond looked the part playing for New York’s PSA Cardinals organization on Saturday. He started the game with a highlight dunk and asserted himself on both ends throughout the day, controlling the pace of the contest. The four-star guard lists a handful of early offers and says programs such as Wichita State and Providence are in frequent contact.

The real news, however, might be that Oklahoma State could be a program to watch should the Cowboys finalize the rumored hire of Creighton assistant Terrence Rencher, who has built a strong bond with Lemond in his role as a Creighton assistant. It’s a hire that, for whatever reason, the 2023 prospect thinks is as good as good.

“I think Oklahoma State might be close (to offering). I was talking to coach [Rencher] at Creighton a lot -- the most of any school -- and now he’s going to end up at Oklahoma State. He’s going to recruit me there, so we’ll see what happens with that.”

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THREE FRESHMEN TO MONITOR FROM THE EVENT 

Johnuel “Boogie” Fland
Johnuel “Boogie” Fland (Rivals.com)

Abraham Rosario — Rosario turned in well-rounded performances in each of the two games he played Saturday, blocking shots both at the rim and on the perimeter. He also showed off the ability to guard multiple positions. Rosario also impacted the game on the glass, as his 6-foot-8 frame comes complete with broad shoulders and a strong upper body. He needs to get more consistent finishing at the rack, that should come with maturity. Rosario was recently offered by Wichita State and should see his options expand in the year ahead.

Andreo AshAsh is yet to garner his first scholarship offer but seems to be on the verge of changing that. Saturday saw the 6-foot-7 forward lead his team in scoring, while getting buckets at all three levels and blocking a handful of shots. Ash needs to get more consistent shooting the ball from deep, but he managed to make a couple of 3-pointers on Saturday. It won’t be long until college offers arrive.

Johnuel “Boogie” Fland — Fland measures in at 6-foot-3. but his long arms allow him to play even bigger than that on the defensive end. He has a knack for getting in passing lanes and also rebounds well for his size. He’ll need to become a better shooter, but he boasts a tight handle and gets to the rack incredibly well for a freshman. Fland is a high-level athlete with a high-major future. He holds early offers from Maryland, Siena, Rider and others.