Three-Point Play: Baylor, Maxwell Lewis, Taj Manning
Scott Drew and Baylor are recruiting at a level that hasn’t been seen in Waco for almost a decade. There’s another prospect from the class of 2020 skipping out on college and a 2022 forward from Kansas City is coming off of a great weekend. Eric Bossi discusses in today’s Three-Point-Play.
Starting Five: Big decisions coming from top 2021 prospects
2022 Rankings: Top 75
1. BAYLOR HAS EARLY NO. 1 CLASS
Not since the class of 2012 – when they landed Isaiah Austin and Ricardo Gathers -- have Scott Drew and Baylor landed a top-50 prospect. Now, after as impressive a week as the program has ever seen in recruiting, the Bears have the No. 1 class in 2021.
Now let’s make a few things clear. We are talking on virtual paper here and these guys have to back up high school reputations. But, anybody who has been paying attention knows that while Baylor’s recruits haven’t always ranked the highest, Drew and his staff have done a good job of helping develop players like Taurean Prince, Royce O’Neale and others into NBA players. So, it is going to be interesting to see what the Bears are going to be able to do with five-star wing Kendall Brown, top-50 shooting guard Langston Love and forward Jeremy Sochan, who ranked in the top 40 before heading to Germany to play club ball.
How quickly and how perfectly things came together is something else. A native Texan, Love was basically a done deal for rival Texas before having a sudden change of heart and decided to announce Baylor. He’s a scorer with toughness. Sochan broke out Internationally before coming to the States to play his junior year and nobody really saw Baylor coming with the skilled combo forward. But, when he did commit, many thought he would hurt their chances with Brown. In fact, just last week I ranked the contenders for Brown and didn’t include the Bears in his top five because I thought that he would see Sochan as too similar a player. Turns out the Bears were able to leverage a relationship between staffer Jared Nuness and Brown’s family to get them in the door and build a bond that was able to withstand a commitment. Additionally, it turns out that Brown is close to Love and his commitment helped with landing the high-flying wing.
Next, a big man would be ideal. With such a solid core class, Drew and his staff can afford to shoot for the stars and can dedicate the bulk of their attention towards chasing after a player like top-25 center Charles Bediako. If they don’t get him, they’ve proven that they can tap into the transfer market or find diamonds in the rough. Either way, the start to 2021 couldn’t be going any better.
2. FOUR-STAR MAXWELL LEWIS SKIPPING COLLEGE
For a while, I’ve viewed Maxwell Lewis as one of the more intriguing prospects in the class of 2021. Now, though, the 6-foot-7 native of Las Vegas who played last season at Compass Prep in the Phoenix area and ranked in the top 75 of the rising senior class has decided to skip out on a prep school year and become the latest to go and prepare for the NBA Draft in the Chameleon BX training program run by Frank Matrisciano.
I am certainly interested to see how this plays out as Lewis doesn’t have a ton of high level experience under his belt, having essentially played only one season of varsity basketball and a couple of summers of high-level travel ball. He does have great size for a wing, is a fine athlete and has lots of physical upside. But, feel for the game and experience level were questions.
3. MANNING COMING INTO HIS OWN
Over the weekend I had the opportunity to spend time at Camp United a venture run between Kansas City based Run GMC, Omaha’s OSA Crusaders and Minnesota’s Howard Pulley Panthers. There was plenty of high level play and I’ll have recruiting updates coming on players like Hunter Sallis, Gradey Dick, Tucker DeVries and Tamar Bates.
For this column, though, I wanted to touch on the improvement that three-star combo forward Taj Manning has made over the last year. A 6-foot-6 product of Grandview (Mo.), Manning has always been a high-level athlete. However, over the weekend he showed a much more polished skill level to go along with his ability to play above the rim. He hit shots in pick-and-pop situations, he crashed the glass, he drove for baskets and he also showed lots of defensive versatility.
Mid-major Milwaukee was the first to pull the trigger on a scholarship offer and there is little doubt that Manning will soon have more offers on the mid to upper mid-major level. He also mentioned Arkansas, Creighton, Kansas State, Missouri, North Carolina, Purdue and others have inquired, so his recruitment could really take off if he continues to improve.