Starting Five: 2021's top two go head to head
2021's top two ranked players Patrick Baldwin Jr. and Paolo Banchero went head to head on Saturday night, how did it go? What junior college player has seen his stock soar and which Rivals150 prospects have decisions coming in the next few days? All of that and more in this week's edition of the Starting Five.
1. BALDWIN AND BANCHERO GO HEAD TO HEAD
Saturday night, Phenom University Team Herro and Rotary Select met up in the Grassroots Showcase in Indianapolis. That mean 2021's No. 1 ranked player Patrick Baldwin Jr. of Phenom and No. 2 ranked Paolo Banchero were able to go head to head. Thanks to a live stream, I was able to watch from Kansas City.
It was ugly at times and not quite the showcase of elite talent I was hoping to see, but Banchero scored the decision here. Not only did the recent Duke commitment's Rotary team get the win, but he outperformed Baldwin in a game where the two spent most of the night defending each other.
I had Banchero for 20 points and 10 rebounds on 6-15 shooting from the field. He looked to be in tremendous shape physically and spent much of his time facing up, shooting jump shots and making some drives -- including one for a very authoritative dunk. What I didn't see was much play in the post where he's often unguardable. Clearly, he's looking to expand his game and combining more face up skill with his ability to play in the post and pass out of doubles is going to make him a problem at Duke.
For the most part it was a forgettable night for Baldwin who I had with nine points (2-9 FG) seven rebounds and three assists. The skilled forward just never looked in rhythm and Banchero's strength advantage looked to be problematic at times. Most surprisingly he looked uncomfortable with his jump shooting which is usually his bread and butter.
2. JUCO FORWARD'S STOCK IS SOARING
Over the last month or so, junior college sophomore Langston Wilson has become one of the most heavily recruited players in America and he's got one heck of a story.
A native of the Philadelphia area whose father Ron Wilson played at Villanova, Wilson never played high school basketball due to a medical condition. Last summer he was discovered in a Pro-Am and upon being cleared medically enrolled at Rome (Ga.) Georgia Highlands. During his freshman season, Wilson averaged 10.1 points and 7.6 rebounds per game. Not surprisingly, his production was inconsistent at times given that he was playing his first season of organized basketball.
However, what was consistent is his absolutely freakish athleticism. There isn't a more explosive frontcourt prospect in America right now (see the video below for proof). Given that he's shown signs he could develop into a threat as a jump shooter too, coaches are betting that they can help to turn the four-star prospect into a high level college player.
Alabama, Arizona State, Georgia, Kansas, Kansas State, Maryland, Memphis, Mississippi, Oregon,Texas A&M, West Virginia and many others have offered over the past few months. At this point Wilson has landed nearly 40 scholarship offers and he's even had NBA teams inquiring about him.
To come so far so fast is pretty incredible. His recruitment and development as a player will be as interesting to watch as any prospect in the country.
3. ARMBRESTER SET TO ANNOUNCE
First up to decide this week is Atlanta native and Mt. Pleasant (Utah) Wasatch Academy combo forward Robbie Armbrester.
Pound for pound one of the toughest players in the country, Armbrester plans to announce his decision at 7:46 pm EST Monday night via his Instagram live page.
Programs like Georgia Tech, Texas A&M, Virginia Tech and many others have been involved but on decision day, the Rivals Futurecast favors Kelvin Sampson and the Houston Cougars and that's who I have cast my vote with as we wait to hear from Armbrester on his college choice.
4. MASHACK AND GREGG ALSO PICKING THIS WEEK
Armbrester won't be the only Rivals150 player making his decision this week.
Top 50 shooting guard Jahmai Mashack is slated to announce on Tuesday and four-star power forward Ben Gregg will reveal his choice on Wednesday.
A high level athlete from Etiwanda (Calif.), Mashack is one of the top two-way players in the class of 2021. Mashack is down to Arizona, Arkansas, Cal, Colorado, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas. A day away from his decision, the Volunteers are considered to be pretty big favorites to land Mashack.
A skilled 6-foot-9 forward with the ability to score from the rim out to the three-point line. Gregg's decision is currently much tougher to call than Mashack's. Arizona and Oregon have been among the favorites for much of his recruitment. However, Gonzaga came through with an offer a few weeks ago and finally landing that Zags offer could change things up. I would bet on his decision coming from those three schools, but it seems like a really close call with just two days until he picks.
5. LUC AN UNDER THE RADAR 2021 POINT GUARD
I would have loved to have seen what type of interest three-star point guard Kyrell Luc could have drawn while playing with Mass Rivals during the summer.
As a junior at Brimmer & May, the 5-foot-10 point guard was named NEPSAC AA Player of the Year and it doesn't take too long to see why. Luc is an intense competitor and easily one of the most athletic backcourt players in the class of 2021. He has tremendous quickness, plays above the rim and is really difficult to keep from getting to the rim.
In a class thin on point guards, it looks to me like he's a guy who could have seen his stock soar. If I'm an upper level mid major or even a high major, I'm taking some time to research him if I need a point guard because there is something there.
Luc isn't totally without attention. Boston University, Cleveland State, Fairfield, Holy Cross, Milwaukee and a few others have seen enough to make scholarship offers. Should one of them end up with him he looks like he could be a major steal.