Latest Rivals 150 & ESPN 100 Class of 2021 Rankings: Providence & Big East Targets

This past week Rivals & ESPN updated their 2021 basketball recruiting class. It was surprising to see an update given there was no AAU season, which is where most of the evaluations take place. With that said, some of the evaluators may have gotten their hands on Junior year high school tape and tweaked a player’s rankings accordingly.

Some players of note for Providence and the Big East below:

Disclaimer: NR means not ranked relative to the Rivals150/ESPN 100 release.

Casey Simmons (143 on Rivals, 91 on ESPN) – Milton Academy (MA) – Casey plays for Mass Rivals on the AAU circuit which is traditionally a breeding ground for Providence recruits (David Duke, AJ Reeves, to name a few).

I hope this isn’t a situation where Providence is late to the party and misses out on a “local” recruit a la Jordan Geronimo and Dallion Johnson last year, who will be playing for Indiana and Penn State, respectively. Geronimo ended up as a 4 star, Top 100 player, while Johnson was a 3 star.

Rafael Castro (137 on Rivals, NR on ESPN) – 6’9 3/4 from Dover, NJ – Rafael has gained a ton of offers over the past few weeks, with his recruitment exploding. Providence offered recently, and the coaching staff has already had a virtual Zoom visit with him. He is somebody to monitor and will be a tough get. Being from NJ should help sell playing in the Big East.

Lucas Taylor (132 on Rivals, NR on ESPN) – 6’6 Shooting Guard – Lucas is one of a handful of players from North Carolina (see Kuluel Mading) that Assistant Coach Jeff Battle is aggressively recruiting. When watching his film, he reminds me of AJ Reeves – lite (meaning no offense here – Reeves was a blue chip recruit that PC rarely lands). He is a sharpshooter and has good size to attack the rim. His shooting release point is low, which may be an issue at the college level, but that is still to be determined. With him being from Wake, NC, I expect the new Wake Forest staff to be aggressive in keeping this talent home.

Bensley Joseph (122 on Rivals, 68 on ESPN) – PG – Putnam Science Academy: Providence has offered, but we haven’t heard too much about him to this point. With Pettiford committing to Louisville, I presume PC will put the full court press on him now. PC traditionally hasn’t had a lot of success landing kids from this school, for whatever reason.

Ryan Conway (119 on Rivals, NR on ESPN) – Seton Hall PG Commit: Ryan chose Seton Hall last month over Providence and a slew of other schools (I actually thought he would commit to Marquette – his game is similar to a Markus Howard). This guy should be the PG of the future for The Hall.

Disclaimer: It is worth noting that Providence may have missed landing him due to The Crier tweeting at him “Come to Providence, baby”. And this wasn’t a baby in the Dick Vitale sense of the word, but more so a creepy 30 year old man talking to a 17 year old high school recruit. Sorry about that, Ryan.

Angelo Brizzi (118 on Rivals, NR on ESPN) – 2 Guard – Virginia – If there is anybody better suited to play for Villanova, it’s this guy. Villanova’s blueprint to success is as follows: Recruit Italian Guards. The success will follow.

The following will certainly transpire: He’ll commit to Villanova, make 40 percent from 3 throughout his career, get the benefit of the doubt from Big East refs, intern at Merrill Lynch as a Private Wealth Management intern, and torture Providence fans for years.

Virginia is also targeting him and North Carolina has had initial conversations. Selfishly, I’m hopeful either of these schools get him because I know this kid will be the next gem at Nova.

Gabe Wiznitzer (112 on Rivals, NR on ESPN) – 4 star power forward – Providence tried to get Gabe to reclassify to 2020 to shore up front court depth. He appears to be staying in 2021, and Providence is still very much in the mix. He’d be a great get for the Friars and help build the future for the front court after Nate Watson and Noah Horchler graduates.

Ryan Mutumbo (89 on Rivals, 94 on ESPN) – I am skeptical Ewing survives another year at Georgetown. If he does, Ewing needs to land Dikembe’s son.

Nnanna Nkoju (73 on Rivals, 93 on ESPN): Villanova Commit – 6’9 Forward from Delaware – I have admittedly only watched highlight clips, but I read 6’9 forward from Delaware and automatically think of Ben Bentil. Bentil was a terror his sophomore year for the Friars, and I can only imagine what his game would have been like as an upperclassmen. What could have been, Big Ben!

Also, this guy is related to David Nkoju, TE for the Browns. I don’t like the image of David Njoku rim running on a Villanova team. Long story short, I anticipate this guy to kill Providence over the course of his Villanova career.

It is worth noting he was the teammate of recent Providence signee Jyare Davis.

Ahamad Bynum (72 on Rivals, 78 on ESPN) – DePaul Commit

Keon Edwards (68 on Rivals, 40 on ESPN) – DePaul Commit

I was shocked to see DePaul have two commits as consensus Top 80 players; however, I don’t expect both to stick. Bynum is from Chicago so there is a chance he actually plays for the Blue Demons, but Edwards is from South Carolina. I have no clue how he and DePaul became a match in the first place.

It’d be great to see DePaul emerge from the basement of the Big East. Landing top recruits like this is a start; however, I do recall Tyga Campbell being committed for a long time before ultimately flipping to play for the Bruins.

Hunter Sallis (11 on Rivals, 18 on ESPN) – Omaha Nebraska – 6’4 combo guard – This would be quite a win for Creighton if they can manage to keep the 5 star guard home to play for a year before heading to the NBA. Creighton should be a Top 20 team throughout the season, so hopefully that helps them with the Sallis recruitment.

Watch out for the GLeague here too. He is that good.

Overall thoughts on Rankings:

I’m sure these rankings will change drastically (even more so than usual due to the pandemic) once these recruits have their senior season of high school.

With all that said, it is great to see Providence on the short list with so many Top 150 recruits. Land some of these recruits and pair them with a Gianni Thompson, and you are talking about a Top 25 nationally ranked class.

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