Recruiting update: The latest on Williamson & Langford, plus identifying Silvio De Sousa's potential first game
While so much of the recent KU basketball recruiting talk has surrounded the status of Class of 2018 big man Silvio De Sousa and his quest to come to Kansas in time for the second semester — understandably so, given the enormous lift that would give this year's team — the KU coaching staff remains in pursuit of additional talent in what already is a stacked 2018 class.
With four elite players signed already — De Sousa, big man David McCormack, point guard Devon Dotson and combo guard Quentin Grimes all made their commitments official during the early signing period — KU coach Bill Self said he was looking for a perimeter scorer to round out the class.
The top two such players on KU's wish list in that area also happen to be two of the most highly touted players in the class in forward Zion Williamson and shooting guard Romeo Langford.
Neither player has tipped his hand quite yet on where he might be headed, but Kansas appears to be in the underdog role in terms of landing either of them.
Here's a quick look at what Rivals.com analyst Corey Evans recently said about KU's current standing with both players.
“The Jayhawks aren't a favorite for either,” Evans wrote. “But they have a fighter’s chance.”
Evans on Williamson: “The Jayhawks, while they were at one point a favorite for him, are playing catch-up with Williamson. Most of the talk recently has centered around Duke, Clemson and Kentucky. I give the Jayhawks a slim 20-percent chance with Williamson.”
My take: It seems that most of the reason for KU slipping in the chase for Williamson has more to do with what other schools can offer and not anything KU has done to lose ground. All three of those programs are closer to Williamson's Spartanburg, S.C., home than Kansas and that appears to be a big factor for him and his family. Beyond that, Duke and Kentucky both also offer the blue blood experience that Kansas can. Williamson absolutely loved his visit to KU and has a terrific connection with the coaching staff. Plus, with KU's 2018 class currently constructed the way it is, he would be given the freedom to play whatever role and wherever he wanted if he came to Kansas. Those facts keep KU in the hunt but may not be enough to overcome the distance factor.
Evans on Langford: “Langford may be the more attainable prospect. The five-star scoring guard recently cut his list to a group of three consisting of Vanderbilt, Indiana and Kansas. I give the Jayhawks around a 40-percent chance of securing his commitment. They can sell their pedigree and ability to develop Langford out of the spotlight, whereas there would be extra attention and pressure placed upon him as a Commodore or Hoosier.”
My take: Most of the recent recruiting trail chatter that I've heard about Langford has Vandy making the strongest move of late. His has been a weird recruitment in that all three of his finalists have at one point been reported to be the destination and that it was all just a matter of time. Obviously, Evans' 40 percent call gives KU a decent shot at him. In fact, assuming you split the remaining 60 percent in half for Indiana and Vanderbilt, KU may in fact be the favorite. But I think it's been too tough of a recruitment to follow to call any of them the favorite at this point and we will just have to wait and see how things shake out. Langford is a terrific shooter and scorer and may be exactly that kind of perimeter player that Self is talking about when he outlines the one piece he still would like to add. And I know many of those who already have signed with KU would love to play with Langford. With those things in mind, I'd expect KU to put one more hard, full-court press on Langford in the coming weeks.
While we're talking recruiting, here's the latest from Self on the status of De Sousa, who still appears to be on track to graduate from IMG Academy early and report to Kansas in time for the second semester.
The addition of the 6-foot-9, 245-pound forward with an impressive physical presence and a motor that does not quit would be a huge boost for a Kansas team that is paper thin in the front court.
If all goes well, it appears that KU's Big 12 opener at Texas on Dec. 29 would be the first game De Sousa would be eligible to play in.
“I believe so,” Self said Monday. “We've talked about that. His (situation) is a little bit screwy in that his actual last final (at IMG) is after that (Nebraska) game. If we think everything is good, I believe he could actually come here but not be certified yet, which means he couldn't play in a game.”
“We'll just have to wait and see. I'm confident that his last final is after the Nebraska game. So the only game he could technically play would be Stanford (on Dec. 21). But getting all that paperwork done before the Stanford game, that's not going to happen. So the best-case scenario is to hopefully have him for our conference play when we get back from Christmas. That's probably the best-case scenario if everything goes perfect.”