Taurean Thompson nearing decision

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Top-100 Brewster Academy (N.H.) big man Taurean Thompson is nearing the conclusion of his drawn-out recruiting process.

Perhaps the only thing Seton Hall fans have had to wait longer for than Isaiah Whitehead’s decision to remain in the NBA Draft is the choice of where Taurean Thompson will attend school in the fall.

It’s been nearly a month and a half since the highly rated post forward took an official visit to Seton Hall and was on the verge of committing before holstering his six shooters and deciding to extend the recruiting process.

Taurean has since tripped to Syracuse, who are perhaps a favorite in his mind but not his mother’s, and is now finally set to take his final official visit to Michigan State this weekend after a prolonged holding pattern of silence regarding what his next move would be. UPDATE: His visit will last from Sunday through Monday.

Thompson has told multiple reporters including SNY.tv that he will make his commitment shortly after visiting East Lansing.

With these three schools clearly the finalists for the consensus top-100 forward, let’s take a quick look at each destination.

Michigan State

The newcomers in his recruitment, Sparty is always a Final Four threat and Tom Izzo is well known for churning out big-time forwards with Golden State’s Draymond Green perhaps the most prominent right now.

The pedigree is there, but a clear variable is their campus as Taurean has never been there as opposed to visiting Syracuse and Seton Hall multiple times while his mother apparently wants him closer to home (Jersey).

As far as playing time goes, Michigan State added UNLV graduate transfer forward Ben Carter in early May, who will help fill the gap left by Matt Costello (graduation) and freshman Deyonta Davis (NBA Draft).

Carter will slot in alongside senior big Gavin Schilling and incoming top-50 center Nick Ward. Thompson would essentially be the fourth post added to Izzo’s rotation.

Syracuse

Thought to be the favorites for a long time, Syracuse fans haven’t been as confident on social media of late. That may turn out to be just hearsay as Jim Boeheim looks to add to his Final Four squad.

The Orange perhaps get the nod in the most deep team at the forward position between Thompson’s three finalists. 30 mpg man and Roselle Catholic product Tyler Roberson returns, DaJuan Coleman has opted to come back for his fifth season and NBA prospect Tyler Lydon will return for his sophomore season with a plan of locking up a first round pick in next year’s NBA Draft.

But that’s not all. 6-11 Providence transfer Paschal Chukwu gains eligibility and 6-8 top-100 recruit Matthew Moyer joins the fray as a possible power forward. The stable appears full in the short term future, though Syracuse will likely lose Roberson, Colemand and Lydon by time Taurean is a sophomore.

Seton Hall

Despite being the senior recruiters in this saga, Seton Hall are considered by many fans and outsiders to be the dark horse here. How could a team without any available scholarships (untrue) and limited recent basketball success possibly outlast Syracuse and Michigan State?

With persistent recruiting by Shaheen Holloway for close to a year now that has made Taurean describe Seton Hall as a close-knit family atmosphere and which has helped persuade his mother, Seton Hall has remained true while a Big East Tournament crown and NCAA berth has done plenty to convince Thompson along the way.

Conventional thinking would have one think that the Hall has the most open room to add a forward, they don’t on paper. The open scholarship will likely not come in the form of Kevin Willard pushing someone out the door, as some have said.

Braeden Anderson, who was severely limited last season due to balancing law school and hoops, likely has a contingent move to a graduate assistant position based on Thompson’s decision. If moving a bench player that had to miss Big East Tournament walk-throughs due to class and was given an amazing opportunity in the first place to a coaching position is pushing someone out the door, well, I’m not sure what to say.

Still, Anderson’s freeing up of a scholarship leaves five Pirates at either the four or five spot: Angel Delgado (PF/C), Ismael Sanogo (PF), Michael Nzei (PF), Rashed Anthony (C) and Myles Carter (PF).

Listed by playing time in descending order, Kevin Willard has a ton of bodies at his disposal, but perhaps a lack of Big East starter-level firepower after Sanogo. Depending on Taurean Thompson’s transition to the college game, he will likely battle Nzei and Anthony for minutes off the pine, though he is a projected center.

Conclusion

In a vacuum, Michigan State probably has the most appeal, but it doesn’t appear that Taurean or his mother are leaning that way. Then again, anything can happen with Tom Izzo handling the rock and the shot clock off in this recruitment.

Isaiah Whitehead sticking around, at least in my mind, would have increased Seton Hall’s chances here as they’d be a lock to return to the NCAA tournament and top-three school in the Big East. However, they have been and look to still be in the lead with Taurean’s mother, which as we’ve seen with Whitehead, could be a major influence.

If Thompson were to commit to Seton Hall, he would be the third top-150 player in Kevin Willard’s 2016 class, which has been quietly assembled as his second best behind the well-known 2014 crop.

  • hallstorm

    Nice analysis Chris. If you were to tell me a few months ago that his mom’s preference was Seton Hall and that held water, I would have rolled my eyes and thought nothing of it. IW’s ultimate decision into deciding to stay in the draft has now forever altered my perception of a mother’s influence. As much as his college choice matters (and has the biggest impact on SHU), this whole process is intriguing to me because it seems like it’s a joint decision and it’s soooo interesting to me to see how much these kids get pushed by their respective families.

    • Thanks! Yep. Parents play major factors behind the scenes… which has been seen as recently as Jaren Sina to Isaiah Whitehead

      • PadrePirate

        And probably Gibbs

  • 11yearplan

    As a grad assistant Anderson does not have to coach. He can take another position and play. Has anyone said for sure the position will be as a coach?

    • Are you sure…? Have not heard of this before. Any examples?

      • 11yearplan

        I know of students, not at Seton Hall, who were GA’s for professors and played. it comes with its own time challenges but, if Braenden takes 2 summer school class, he will further lighten his load during the fall and spring. Summer classes are usually at night leaving the day for practice, training and studying. A difficult road to hoe, but still better than first year.

  • Fishjam

    Mich State has a lot to sell to Taurean. Izzo’s track record speaks for itself and Taurean would join 4 Top 40 recruits to form a Fab 5 freshman class. Add in the fact that PF Deyonta Davis went from a #26 ranked recruit to a potential top 15-20 1st round draft pick after 1 year will sure be emphasized. Taurean is a very attractive player but I do not see him being NBA ready in 1 or even 2 years. That said, most kids think they are better than they are and TT is likely dreaming of Izzo getting him ready for the NBA in a year or 2.

    Our best chance may be if his Mom and Grandmother don’t like the long trip and not knowing anyone in Lansing. The Mom knows a lot of people in and around Seton Hall and can attend every home game with ease. With all that has been posted about his Mom, this could help or hurt us. Some speculate she will have a huge say in his decision and will try to keep him home while others think he wants to get as far away from her as possible and will make his own choice. That, plus the lure of Izzo and to be the 5th member of MSU’s Top 5 ranked recruiting class may be too much.

  • PadrePirate

    Other than plain loyalty to keeping our word, if there ever was one, I see no point to keeping BA, as a GA or any other figure we can come up with.

    Why? If the boy didn’t have the time for bball last year, why would he have it this year? Is he really worth holding on to? Besides a nice frame, I didn’t see much to hoot about in the few minutes he was on the floor.

    What makes you think he could coach?

    I just don’t follow the logic here at all.

    As Joe Schmoe has said numerous times, ath scholarships are one year renewable deals. His one year is up. It wasn’t a good fit. So why prolong this another year?? Please explain

  • PadrePirate

    Having been burned by one mom in recent weeks, it sure would be cosmic justice to have another mom influence in our favor…

    I still think IWs decision was a poor one, but I guess we’ll find out on draft day

    • shufaninva

      I think burned might be a bit harsh. I feel the pain too, but from what I am seeing, IW has really risen in some boards, and even hearing rumors that the Knicks might want to trade up to get him in the first round. PG’s with his size are valuable, so I am kind of changing my mind on this one. IW might very well have made the right decision after all.

      • PadrePirate

        Fair enough. I hope, for his sake, that you’re right. I’d hate to see him bounce around the Dleague and euro circuit for years because he didn’t play one more year of college ball.

    • Joe Schmoe

      You know whats going to happen on draft day…..

      • PadrePirate

        What I’ve thought for the last two months is mid to late 2nd, like most everyone else. But what I KNOW is squat. We could be surprised. At least there are some vibes trending upwards. Who really knows until draft day?

  • Michigan State now the heavy favorite

  • Joe J

    Izzo will make him an offer he can’t refuse. Recruiting is very sleazy. Especially with these big time programs and coaches. Almost impossible if you run a clean program.

    • staxwell

      MSU has been the epitome of a clean program under Izzo. The hell are you talking about?

      • Joe J

        No program is clean except for maybe a few Ivy League and patriot league schools. There is too much money involved. Let’s face it, it’s big business. Believe what you want. Truth is, Thompson is holding out for the best deal and izzo has the most to give to him and his family.

    • Nate

      Yeah, actually, Izzo runs a very clean program. He had to back out of recruiting in Chicago because he wouldn’t deal with all the handlers and AAU coaches holding their hands out. He lost Cliff Alexander to Kansas, and we all see what happened with him – losing his eligibility for impermissable benefits. Unless you want to go all tin-foil hat and say Izzo was outbid, it would appear as though he didn’t land him because he wouldn’t get dirty for even a player of Alexander’s caliber.

      • hallstorm

        Well, I think Izzo is the best in college basketball today. He gets the most out of his players every year. I hope to not lose Thompson there in the 11th hour, but I couldn’t blame him if he goes–even if he doesn’t see playing time for 2 years.

        • Nate

          Yeah, should Izzo land him, don’t feel too bad. It seems like your coach has the program on the rise, at least (I’m assuming you’re an SHU fan, not a SU fan), and even without him will still do well. Izzo made his last final four after a series of big recruiting misses and losing 2 Lottery picks and a D-league PG. So the guys you have may surprise you.
          Anyway, it would probably feel pretty similar to the way we Spartan fans have felt frequently prior to this year’s class. It felt like we were constantly losing guys that looked like they were going to come to MSU for months to Duke and Kentucky, and occasionally to Kansas at the last minute. So we know how you’d feel should he come to MSU.
          That being said, I have no idea what’s going to happen here. There are a few alleged reports that the trip went very well, but in reality, those could just be rumors, or even if true be irrelevant, and he ultimately choose Seton Hall.

          • Tony O

            Hey Nate, you have one of, if not THE, best coaches there. Always respected Michigan State…year in, year out, he has them competitive…at top 10 level.

      • Joe Schmoe

        What do you define as a “clean program”? One w/o sanctions?

  • Haven’t heard anything of serious substance over last day~

    What a drawn-out process for a kid who is quoted as saying he can’t wait to commit. I’m sure you can tell what I’m hinting at…

    • Fishjam

      I recall back to this Winter and reading that Taurean’s mother was attending many of our home games without Taurean. That was a big sign to me at the time and I’m not surprised that she is the only thing keeping the Pirates in the game right now despite his strong desire to play for Izzo. She loves her son and has a great deal of influence on the young man…she wants him in a close-knit family environment and wants to remain a short drive away. This is a kid who doesn’t even have a cellphone and stays off social media which tells me Mom is adept at keeping him focused and that he listens to and respects her. I’m not giving up hope that Mom influences him enough to choose the Hall.

      • shufaninva

        I’m not so sure that I want a player to commit that way. They really need to be ‘Hall in, or it might not work. He will surely be a transfer risk no matter where he goes.

        • Fishjam

          I believe the kid likes SH but can’t blame him for being gaga when Izzo & Mich St come calling. SH doesn’t usually get players that the Mich States and other perennial Top 10 programs want. Mom may be instrumental in telling him he’d be better off in a smaller environment with a family support system and stong opportunity for minutes. I’d like if we were every recruits 1st choice but when it comes to a Top 50-75 Big man I’ll take him any way we can. I don’t think he’d be unhappy.

      • PadrePirate

        Go mom! Hope she steers him to South Orange. With Ish and Angel sharing the 4-5, there’s plenty of PT to offer here at SHU. Wonder if he’d beat out Nzei and Carter for PT. Hope that Anthony and Anderson transfer.
        He’ll get decent exposure but not the coaching staff he’d get at MSU.
        Mom knows best.

    • Joe Schmoe

      Mike Waters on Taurean Thompson..

      “(Seton Hall is) his best path to significant playing time as a freshman.”

      • Fishjam

        Most of those Syracuse articles are totally overlooking Ish & Nzei for some reason. They say SH returns forwards Desi & Angel with no mention of a 1st team All-BE Tournament PF in Ish Sanogo. That said, I do believe SH still offers best chance for immediate PT followed fairly closely by MSU with Syracuse allotting the least freshman PT.

    • PadrePirate

      I don’t get it. Either he’s flaky and unsure or his advisors hold the strings… Why is this taking so long?

      • Joe Schmoe

        Taurean want to go to MSU. Mom wants SHU. #conflict

        • Mom wants the best deal, not necessarily Seton Hall

          • Joe Schmoe

            A house, job, new tractor or bag full of cash? #bluechips

  • VinBick

    The coaching staff has a real shot with talented kids now. The program is on the upswing, and skilled, local kids have a local option once again. Willard and his assistants can go head-to-head with Izzo and other top coaches and national programs. This kid, Thompson, would be smart to listen to his Mom. Mothers never give their kids a bum steer! The exposure he can get in the New York-New Jersey media market, and the high competition level in the Big East is valuable for any kid with aspirations to play in the NBA.

    A big step forward will be when alumni and the expanded fan base put their fannies in the seats at the Rock in greater numbers regularly. With all of the games on Fox Sports, that hurts attendance. Easier and cheaper to watch a game at home. The vibe at the Rock is awesome when Pirate Nation is there in big numbers. Go Pirates!

  • Jersey Jerry

    Yo Chris ~ what’s the deal w/Madison Jones?? Inquiring minds need to know more!

    https://www.sny.tv/college-recruiting/news/seton-hall-adds-former-wake-forest-guard-madison-jones/183246584

    • Rich Ricci

      From what little I’ve seen and heard about Madison Jones, he sounds a lot like Derrick Gordon in that he’s never been able to lock down a starting position and doesn’t shoot that well, but he’s a good, steady ball handler who plays within himself, so he doesn’t force things and his turnovers are minimized. Coming from a solid basketball environment like Wake Forest, he should be able to provide some good experience and possibly become a team leader, so I’d have to look at this as a solid pick up at this point.

    • Rich Ricci

      From what little I’ve seen and heard about Madison Jones, he sounds a lot like Derrick Gordon in that he’s never been able to lock down a starting position and doesn’t shoot that well, but he’s a good, steady ball handler who plays within himself, so he doesn’t force things and his turnovers are minimized. Coming from a strong basketball environment like Wake Forest, he should be able to provide some good experience and possibly become a team leader, so I’d have to look at this as a solid pick up at this point.

  • Joe Schmoe

    No report on the wake forest grad transfer?

    • Was off the grid this weekend. Same PG I had been mentioning for many weeks now. Almost didn’t work out.

      Was recruited out of HS back in 2011/12. He’s a pure PG, which I’ve compared to an upgraded version of Tom Maayan.

      Got a DWI prior to the start of last season, was kicked off the team and then graduated from Wake in December. Was expected to suit up for Mercer but that never happened — I don’t know why

      • Joe Schmoe

        Interesting…So hes got one year of eligibility left…Do you see any value here?

        • Yes, of course. Without him, Seton Hall had no PGs on their roster until December. And who knows if JT will ever get his act together.

          I know KW has come out and said that Carrington will try PG, but I’m skeptical until I see it.

          • Rich Ricci

            From what I understand, Madison Jones is also a very good on the ball defender so, as a point guard, he should be able to force the opposing team to start running their plays a lot higher than they’d like as well as later in the shot clock, both tactics being very disruptive to a set offense. I’m optimistic about this pick-up and feel it will pay a lot more dividends this season than it’s being given credit for by the media and many of the fans.

          • Joe Schmoe

            Statistically he looks much like a Derrick Gordon type player. Maybe if we can keep the turnovers down at the point, that will foster some additional offensive production. Still going to need the solid-playmaker-in-the-clutch type player that IW was to be complete. Hoping Taurean commits to the hall.

          • RonD

            MJ is a good late pick up at a position of need for one year and he has experience playing the position in a high major conference. But let’s not compare him to Derrick Gordon. DG was unique and averaged roughly 10 points per game during his career and played lock down defense on three NCAA teams.