On the final day college coaches could contact recruits outside of official campus visits until July, no one was more popular on the Henderson International School campus on Wednesday afternoon than Findlay Prep senior forward Anthony Bennett.
The 6-foot-8 Toronto native, who is the top unsigned senior remaining in the 2012 class, is down to five schools, has yet to take any of his campus visits, still says he plans on making a decision by early May and is still tough to get a read on.
His five-school list has remained unchanged for months — UNLV, Florida, Kentucky, Oregon and Washington.
It could get trimmed soon.
“I’m not sure what I’m going to do,” he said before an open gym session on Wednesday. “I think I might try to cut the list down some more before I take my visits. I’ll probably cut it down to a top-three or top-two, I’m not sure.
“It’s still a hard decision. After all these (all-star) games and stuff, I actually have time to think about it now.”
UNLV head coach Dave Rice, along with associate head coach Justin Hutson and assistant Stacey Augmon, flew to Charlotte to sit down with Bennett following Saturday’s Jordan Brand Classic. It was their second of three allotted ‘contacts’ with Bennett, having used their first a few weeks back on a trip to visit with Bennett’s mother.
On Wednesday, before running pickup games with his Findlay teammates, Bennett had a lengthy sit-down with Florida head coach Billy Donovan. Also in attendance for the day’s run was Hutson and Oregon assistant coach Tony Stubblefield.
Bennett said he spoke earlier in the day with Kentucky assistant coach Orlando Antigua.
Where Bennett goes from here is anyone’s guess.
Florida is viewed by many as the front-runner in the race for his services, and he said that Donovan envisions him playing both forward spots. The Gators are by far the most desperate team in the hunt, as they badly need front-court depth alongside returners Patric Young and perimeter-oriented Erik Murphy.
UNLV remains the most live underdog, and Bennett said that the Rebel staff’s pitch has centered around how well he would fit as a stretch-power forward within their uptempo offensive system. He would also have the opportunity to play alongside friend and fellow Canadian Khem Birch — a Pitt transfer and former McDonald’s All-American who will be eligible at the conclusion of the fall semester.
Kentucky, as expected, just lost its entire starting five to the NBA draft on Tuesday, and the defending national champs see Bennett as the potential final piece to a stellar front-court that will already include ballyhooed freshmen Nerlens Noel and Alex Poythress. The Wildcats’ projected starter right now at small forward next season is fellow Canadian Kyle Wiltjer — a sharpshooter who played a valuable role at the back end of UK’s rotation this season as a freshman.
If Bennett is interested in playing strictly as a small forward, Oregon has more playing time to offer than anyone at that spot, which he said they’ve reminded him of consistently.
The only program that appears to be fading away some is Washington (UPDATE: According to a post on ZagsBlog.com on Thursday morning, Bennett’s AAU coach, Mike George, confirmed that Washington has officially been trimmed from the list).
Bennett hasn’t made a habit of flaunting his recruitment publicly, and that isn’t going to change over the next few weeks, as he looks to get past his senior season’s final hurdle.
Williams-Goss on the shelf until late May
Junior Nigel Williams-Goss, one of the top point guard recruits in the 2013 class, is currently paying the price for an injury suffered late in Findlay’s ESPN Rise National High School Invitational title game victory earlier this month in Maryland.
In the third quarter against Montverde (Fla.) Academy, Williams-Goss hurt the middle finger on his right hand, resulting in tendon damage that will have him on the shelf for the first portion of the AAU season.
He played the rest of that game, ultimately hitting the game-winner in overtime, and the injury won’t require surgery.
The Portland, Ore., native has a splint he can wear that allows him to work out and shoot, but contact in game situations is off-limits for the time being as the injury heals, and Williams-Goss said he won’t be back in action until late May.
Meanwhile, he’s getting started with some unofficial visits before the summer travel circuit consumes his schedule. Williams-Goss recently returned from a trip to check out Harvard, has a planned visit to Washington in a couple of weeks, and said he’ll likely trip to either Oklahoma or Missouri — or both — in mid-May.
The former UNLV commit took in several Rebels homes games this season, and his adopted hometown school remains firmly in the mix as his recruitment begins to take shape.
Wood to play for Prospects
UNLV 2013 commit Chris Wood, who took major strides in his first season at Findlay and will likely play a prominent role for the Pilots next season, will play for the Las Vegas Prospects this summer on the AAU circuit.
The 6-foot-8 Wood, a Palmdale, Calif., product who played for the So-Cal All Stars last summer, will team up with Desert Pines junior/Utah commit Julian Jacobs and Canyon Springs sophomore/UNLV target Shaquile Carr to form what should be an entertaining squad over the next few months. Wood’s other options as far as clubs to play for this summer included the Oakland Soldiers and Dream Vision, among others.
The Prospects are coached by UNLV alum Anthony Brown, who has seen multiple players from his program head to his alma mater in recent years, highlighted by Rebels senior-to-be and Mojave High grad Anthony Marshall.