COVID-19 has seemingly stopped everything in the sports world. College recruiting updates appear to be the exception.
In just the last week, there have been a ton of moving parts in terms of Seton Hall looking to next season to replace Myles Powell, Quincy McKnight, Romaro Gill, and outgoing transfers.
Perhaps the most pressing news is that 2021 point guard Zion Harmon (Marshall County, Ky.) is set to commit on Tuesday afternoon. While Seton Hall has done well here, a Western Kentucky prediction from Evan Daniels on Sunday night plus the New York Post reporting he won’t be Jersey-bound is ominous news.
Harmon had an official visit to South Orange in early January, taking in the Marquette game, and has also flirted with re-classifying to 2020, which would mean he would graduate this spring.
Assuming there’s no last minute flip, Harmon will be choosing a local school (Murray State is actually the closest option) over Seton Hall, Maryland, Kansas, and Murray State. Despite visiting Kansas, you’d think a guard-heavy Jayhawks team didn’t ultimately pursue and Maryland has two combo guard commits as part of their 2020 class.
Elsewhere and perhaps related to Harmon’s recruitment, Seton Hall has entered the race for Harvard graduate transfer Bryce Aiken, a Jersey kid that had the Pirates on his final list out of high school along with Miami.
In addition to being second in ESPN’s best grad transfer rankings, 247Sports has really tapped Aiken up as a major get and the Hall has a real shot here for someone who put up 30+ in two of the seven games he played last season (sprained foot), one being against Maryland.
Aiken averaged 22.2 points and 2.6 assists per game in 2018-19, puts up a healthy amount of threes (51-128, 39.8%; 7.1 per game), and may be the most immediate replacement for Myles Powell — that may be the main pitch with a side of Jersey and N.C.A.A. tournament talk.
That said, the downside seems to be his health. In addition to missing 18 games last year (senior), Aiken has played an average of 13 games per season over his last three, missing 31 games over his sophomore and junior seasons. The assumption is he receives a medical redshirt for his senior year and graduates this spring.
On the outgoing side of things, it was widely reported last week that Taurean Thompson is transferring after playing just four minutes (Florida A&M) this year, which is certainly less than the number of times he was missing from the bench due to illness or unknown reasons.
Regardless, it’s a sad ending to a once promising homecoming that started with NBA aspirations but fell far short of expectations and included an N.C.A.A. recruiting violation linked to Shaheen Holloway, now at Saint Peter’s.
Assuming Thompson’s family still wants him to stay local, you’d think Saint Peter’s or heck, even a Pitino-led Iona would take a flyer on him, but the last time he’s played 10+ minutes was February 13 months ago and will be closer to 20 months once he has a chance to play again, so who knows.
I would expect at least one more outgoing transfer before the dust settles.
Lastly, Sandro Mamukelashvili has announced he will test the NBA Draft waters this summer. You’d think that he will get some lower level European offers this summer too, but that a chance to star like Powell before him and get his degree will outweigh the feedback. We’ll know more where Sandro stands as the weeks and months pass.
Here is a list of other transfers that Seton Hall has been linked to:
* – immediately eligible
Mike Smith* (Columbia, PG; 22.8p, 4.5a, 4.1r) — The second immediately eligible big-time Ivy League guard option along with Bryce Aiken, is Columbia’s Mike Smith. Ranked fourth to Aiken’s second in ESPN’s ranking of graduate transfers, Smith is more of a point guard. The 5’11 floor general dished 7+ assists six times last year on a bad Columbia team, which bodes well for what that count would look like at a high-major.
Jonah Antonio* (UNLV, SG/SF; 6.9p) — Immediately eligible, the Perth, Australia native appears to be a spot-up shooter (53-138, 31%), hitting 4+ threes in six games last season. This will be his third school after initially playing his freshman season at Mount Saint Mary’s before sitting out a year and playing at UNLV.
Darius Perry* (Louisville, PG/SG; 5.2p, 2.5a) — A one-time four-star recruit, Perry hasn’t averaged more than 20 mpg in his three years in Kentucky but was a valued glue guy, kind of like Quincy McKnight. He was Louisville’s best on-ball defender and could play both guard positions and is immediately eligible via grad transfer. A Rick Pitino recruit originally, Iona is in the mix, to no surprise.
Amauri Hardy* (UNLV, PG/SG; 14.5p, 3.3a, 3.3r) — A teammate of Antonio’s and perhaps a better option, Hardy played a more pivotal and versatile role at guard for UNLV. Also immediately able to play, Hardy brings even more three-point attempts to the table (63-189, 33%).
Landers Nolley II (Virginia Tech, SF/PF; 15.5p, 5.8r, 2.4a) — A well-rounded player who appears able to play multiple positions like Sandro but only at 6’7, Nolley would have to sit out a year and would have two years of eligibility remaining and is considered ESPN’s best sit-out option. Nolley had to sit out his freshman year due to ACT score issues and then played last year. After sitting out next year, that means under the “play four seasons or five years”, he only has two years left on the clock. Nolley took 215 three-point attempts last year while also nearly bringing down six boards a game — impressive; KenPom has him playing mostly as a center and power forward at Tech.
Trey McGowens (Pittsburgh, G; 11.5p, 3.6a, 3.3r) — Another versatile player, McGowens shot 132 threes while dishing 3.6 assists per game for a struggling Pitt team. McGowens has to sit out a year before playing two and is second on ESPN’s sit-out list after Landers Nolley.
Jamarius Burton (Wichita State, PG/SG; 10.3p, 3.5r, 3.4a) — I didn’t know (or forgot) you could offer a transfer, but Seton Hall has done that here. Burton would have to sit out next year before playing two. He appears to be able to play both guard spots and was fairly efficient from three. Burton is fifth in ESPN’s sit-out transfer rankings.
Sam Sessoms (Binghamton, PG; 19.4p, 5r, 4.8a) — A low-major option, Sessoms played for one of the worst KenPom teams in the country (333rd) last year. That said, he put up big numbers and is 8th on ESPN’s sit-out list. Considering Quincy McKnight came from a struggling low-major in Sacred Heart, that would appear to be the pitch here.
D.J. Carton (Ohio State, G; 10.4p 3a, 2.4r) — Carton seems like a long-shot. He’d be eligible to play three years after sitting out, having not played since January due to leaving a good Ohio State team due to mental health/personal reasons. Carton played north of 20 mpg when he did play, but I don’t see any immediate connections to the Iowa native here.