Things have heated up rather quickly in Ahmed Hill’s recruitment, as the 6-foot-4 shooting guard from Georgia seems to be nearing a decision. After an in-home visit from the Missouri coaching staff Tuesday and another with Buzz Williams and Marquette Wednesday afternoon, Hill tweeted that Indiana was no longer in play for his services. Whether Indiana being taken off his list was Hill’s choice or the Hoosiers’, it appears the top-40 recruit is now down to the two schools he had in-home visits with earlier this week.
247 Sports’ Jerry Meyer tweeted that it “looks like [it’s] gonna be Missouri or Marquette” early Wednesday night.
Hill has been Marquette’s top priority since the Golden Eagles offered him in January — Williams has recruited him since Hill’s sophomore season — and for good reason. He has fantastic size, is quite possibly the best remaining scorer in the 2014 class and has outstanding range from beyond the arc. When we wrote about him in early March, he was averaging 32.1 points and 13.7 rebounds per game. He was also shooting 44 percent from beyond the arc and better than 88 percent from the free-throw line.
Last month IA Elites posted the video below, showing off Hill’s elite athleticism, his good size finishing around the basket and outside shooting. Without making him out to be the second coming of Darius Johnson-Odom, Hill really has no flaws in his game. He truly is an elite prospect — he’s ranked No. 33 by ESPN, No. 69 by Rivals, No. 60 by 247sports and No. 72 by Scout.
So if we are to believe Meyer’s tweet and the general consensus that Hill’s choices have come down to Marquette and Missouri, it’s only fair to analyze both teams’ situations and what the shooting guard may be looking for in a school.
Last month Hill spoke to Mike Pegram of Peegs.com, an Indiana Hoosiers’ recruiting website via Rivals, and gave updates on his five finalists — here’s where it’s prudent to mention that Florida and Florida State are also in the mix for Hill’s services. Here’s what Hill told Pegram about both Marquette and Missouri.
Marquette: “Me and coach Buzz have been talking since my 10th grade year. He came down as much as he can. He came to my school. He came to my house. He talked to my mom. Me and coach Buzz, we just have a really strong relationship. We talk about life situations, and I think he’s a great guy.”
Missouri: “I like their style of play. Me and coach Haith have a pretty good relationship. Over the summer one of my teammates (Jakeenan Gant of Southern Stampede) committed there. We were thinking about playing college ball together. We don’t know what’ll happen. And It’s mainly a basketball school.”
There’s plenty of factors to go over, but we’ll start with current 2014 recruiting classes. The Tigers have locked up commitments from power forward four-star power forward JaKeenan Gant and 6-foot-5 wing Chris Sandifer. Marquette has also grabbed a pair of wings, securing oral commitments from Sandy Cohen and Malek Harris. In this sense there isn’t much difference between the two schools; wherever Hill winds up, he’s going to play and won’t be put behind another freshman. That’s the business of recruiting prospects of Hill’s caliber: he’s not going to school to sit on the bench.
After losing backcourt members Junior Cadougan, Vander Blue and Trent Lockett, Marquette’s 2013 class included point guards Duane Wilson and John Dawson, shooting guard Jajuan Johnson and wing Deonte Burton (along with junior-college forward Jameel McKay). Johnson, a two-guard, was Williams’ highest-ranked recruit, but in Williams’ three-guard sets there’s plenty of room for both Johnson and Hill to play — think Blue and Johnson-Odom at the 2/3.
On Missouri’s side, shooting guard Keion Bell graduated, along with forwards Alex Oriakhi and Laurence Bowers. Point guard Phil Pressey left school a year early, like Blue, leaving an unexpected void at the position. Frank Haith brought in point guards Wes Clark and Shane Rector, along with three posts in his 2013 class.
If Hill is looking for immediate playing time as a freshman, Marquette appears to be the better option. When he arrives on campus in 2014, here’s what the tentative depth chart will look like (minutes, points per game in 2012-13)
Missouri shooting guards
Jabari Brown, RS senior (32.7 mpg, 13.7 ppg)
Jordan Clarkson, RS senior (transfer from Tulsa)
Deuce Bello, senior (transfer from Baylor)
Chris Sandifer, sophomore (3-star 2013 recruit)
Marquette shooting guards
Todd Mayo, senior (14.1 mpg, 5.3 ppg)
Jajuan Johnson, sophomore (4-star 2013 recruit)
Sandy Cohen, freshman (4-star 2014 recruit)
Again, Hill is in it for the long-term and the attributes he’ll bring in as a freshman mean he’s likely to garner playing time from Day 1. Rosters can change, too, so these mock depth charts are hardly set in stone.
The plot becomes more interesting for both Marquette and Missouri in that both schools seem to be leading for the services of junior-college freshman Sam Cassell Jr. After being ruled academically ineligible at Maryland, he chose to attend Chipola Community College and will have three years of eligibility in 2014 at whichever school he decides.
Connecticut and Florida State are also involved, but there’s a chance Marquette winds up with one of Hill or Cassell Jr., and Missouri will get the other. Cassell took an official visit to Marquette last week, so there’s real interest here. But it’s worth repeating that Hill has been the No. 1 target for Marquette for quite some time. If he chooses Missouri it’d be considered a loss on the recruiting front for Williams, something he hasn’t had happen all that often.