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.
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.
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.
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.
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.