Starting Five: Busy Weekend
Both Kansas and California had important recruiting weekends and an Australian star is ready to make his decision.
1. Kansas hosts visitors
After visiting Arizona officially back in December when it hosted UNLV, Jackson took his second official visit to see Bill Self and the Jayhawks this weekend.
The 6-foot-7 wing has also seen Michigan State play in his hometown of Detroit this season and it is believed that the Wildcats, Spartans and Jayhawks are the three front-runners in his recruitment.
As with his previous visits, Jackson has kept to himself and isn't likely to say much in the media.
On campus unofficially was Phoenix (Ariz.) Hillcrest seven-footer DeAndre Ayton. The No. 4 player in the class of 2017, Ayton has had himself a monster junior season and is the current favorite to move to No. 1 in the next 2017 rankings update.
Ayton and his team were in town to face Bel Aire (Kans.) Sunrise Christian in a game as part of the Grind Sessions series of events. Before his Saturday night game, Ayton and his teammates took in the Jayhawks' home win over Texas.
"It was pretty good," Ayton told Shay Wildeboor from JayhawkSlant.com. "I like the atmosphere and I like small gyms that make it loud. I couldn't hear myself, to be honest. I love stuff like that and I love playing in front of people that love entertainment. I just felt all of the love."
2. Aussie ready to decide
Per his twitter, a Monday decision is coming from four-star power forward Harry Froling of Australia.
A skilled and tough 6-foot-9 four man who can shoot out to the three-point line, Froling spent the better part of the last few weeks touring the campuses of Arizona, Colorado, Illinois and SMU.
Capable of stepping in and providing immediate help, Froling is a major target for each program and could have a significant impact on their recruiting efforts. Headed into decision day, Arizona and SMU (where his twin sisters Alicia and Keely play) are believed to be the front-runners.
3. Key visitors on hand for Cal's big win
Despite missing senior point guard Tyrone Wallace due to injury, California scored an important home win on Saturday night when they knocked off Pac-12 heavyweight Arizona in Berkeley.
The crowd at Haas Pavillion was rocking all night and stormed the floor after a 74-73 win over the No. 12 ranked Wildcats.
It was an environment that Cuonzo Martin and his staff had to have been thrilled with while some key recruits were in town.
On hand for his official visit was committed class of 2016 four-star shooting guard Tyson Jolly. While Jolly was certainly an important visitor, 2017 power forward Ira Lee of Napa (Calif.) Prolific Prep and 2018 power forward Jordan Brown of Roseville (Calif.) Woodcreek were very important visitors as well.
Lee is a four-star prospect who currently ranks No. 34 in his class while Brown is a five-star who currently ranks No. 4 overall in his class. Both are considered to be major targets of the Bears and having them on campus on a night like that won't hurt moving forward.
4. Ballock eyes comeback, sets first official visit
Class of 2017's No. 37 player Mitchell Ballock was expecting to miss his entire junior season after undergoing surgery on his left surgery during the fall of 2015. Now, it's looking like the 6-foot-4 shooting guard at Eudora (Kans.) High may be able to play this season.
Sunday night, Ballock told Rivals.com that he's close to 100 percent and that he's hoping to get back on the floor. He has a doctor's appointment on Feb. 2 to check his progress and if he's cleared at that time he'll have time to get back into playing shape and hopes to play late in the season to try and help his team make a run through the Kansas 4A state playoffs.
While Ballock has been sidelined by injury, his recruitment has been going strong. A regular visitor to games at nearby Kansas, Ballock is likely going to take another unofficial trip to Lawrence this weekend -- where 2017 stars Michael Porter and Trae Young are expected as well -- for Jayhawks home game with Kentucky.
Along with Kansas, Creighton and Oklahoma have been quite active and Indiana has also been pushing for a visit. The first team to be awarded an official visit is Creighton. Ballock told Rivals.com that he will trip to Omaha on the weekend of February 6th when the Jays host DePaul.
5. Gafford impresses in loss
On Friday, ESPNU broadcast a game between Bentonville (Ark.) High and El Dorado (Ark.) High. Primarily, the game was a chance to spotlight five-star Kentucky-bound shooting guard Malik Monk of Bentonville, who currently ranks No. 6 in the class of 2016.
After a slow first half, Monk responded with a big second half to finish with 29 points and 15 rebounds in an easy win. The recruiting world already knows plenty about him. But, for anybody who was paying attention, the performance El Dorado's 6-foot-10 center Daniel Gafford from the class of 2017 should have been eye-opening.
Currently ranked No. 30 in the junior class and already committed to Arkansas, Gafford was quite impressive himself while scoring 18 points and grabbing 18 rebounds.
Slender and skilled, Gafford is only playing his third year of organized basketball and shows immense upside. Ranked highly coming out of the summer because of the perceived potential, Gafford easily played up to his lofty status. He showed tremendous hands, good footwork and some touch as he turned for dunks, short jumpers and earned several trips to the free throw line. He didn't have a great day shooting free throws, but his shooting motion looked fundamentally sound and because of that he should be fine moving forward.
Gafford needs to add strength and he's still relatively inexperienced, but he looks like an outstanding early pickup for Mike Anderson and the Razorbacks.