Notebook: Leaf will fall to whom?

In our weekly Notebook feature, the national team explores creative and broad topics from the grassroots hoops realm.

Leaf decision holds ramifications

The recruitment of T.J. Leaf (pictured above), a 6-foot-10, 205-pound power forward from El Cajon (Calif.) Foothills Christian, is quickly coming to a head.'s 11th ranked prospect in 2016, Leaf is easily the West Coast's top player at his position in the class, making his commitment important should he stay in the region and a steal for the school which lands him if he doesn't.

While Leaf unofficially visited UCLA last weekend, it's believed that Florida and Arizona are the frontrunners, with the Bruins joining Michigan, Xavier, Duke and Indiana amongst others, as programs still vying for his commitment.

A skilled four man, Leaf can face up from the high post or play with his back to the basket. He's a very good passer, rebounds well and always plays hard. His unique skill set at his size gives him one of the highest floors in his class.

Look for Leaf's recruitment to end sooner than later.

— Josh Gershon

Georgia Tech reels in sleeper

Sylvester Ogbonda, in my opinion, was going to be a hot name among college coaches during this coming high school season.

But Brian Gregory and his staff at Georgia Tech ended that over the weekend, as Ogbonda gave them a verbal commitment. Kudos to their staff for snagging a commitment in the fall and not allowing his recruitment to go into the spring.

Ogbonda could prove a surprise in the ACC

Ogbonda, a 6-foot-9 center, has impressive mobility and athleticism. At this stage, he impacts the game the most as a rim protector and rebounder. He’s long, has good timing and is relatively quick off his feet.

Offensively, Ogbonda is still coming along, but in my last viewing he did hit a pair of jump hooks and a mid-range jumper. So there are some impressive tools for the Yellow Jackets to work with.

Ogbonda, of Fort Washington (Md.) National Christian Academy, managed to fly under the radar this past spring and summer, which was somewhat surprising. Having evaluated him last high school season and at the Metro 60 event in the early spring, I was expecting him to draw more interest.

Ogbonda is currently regarded as the No. 26 ranked center and fell just outside of’s top 100 when we updated the 2015 rankings in mid-August. If the list was extended to 115 prospects, Ogbonda would have certainly made the cut.

— Evan Daniels

Two upcoming decisions, one highly vested program

Tevin Mack wrapped up his official visit slate a couple weeks ago and it appeared he would announce shortly thereafter, but as of this writing the athletic forward still has yet to select a winner.

The nation’s No. 69 senior prospect, Mack’s finalists include South Carolina, Connecticut, Georgia, Virginia Commonwealth and Clemson. He visited each this fall and is a prime target for each of those programs.

Mack is a critical recruit for the regional high-majors pursuing him

Let’s turn our attention to the homestate Gamecocks. Mack represents a huge opportunity for the program, which for roughly a decade stood by frustrated while the home state failed to produce talent to its potential. That has changed dramatically over the past couple years, however, as a crop of blue-chip athletes has emerged within the state.

Mack certainly registers among those, and he represents an opportunity for Frank Martin to get on the board with the upcoming pipeline.

But he doesn’t represent SC’s only shot at victory. Fellow Palmetto State native P.J. Dozier is expected to announce very soon as well. South Carolina also made his final five— which includes co-finalists Louisville, Georgetown, North Carolina and Michigan — but generally has been considered more of an underdog.

Dozier’s recruitment appears to have turned in the past few weeks, however, so perhaps conventional wisdom needs to be tossed out the window.

The bottom line is that, here and now, South Carolina has a shot to sign one or two top-75 prospects from its home state. The next seven days will be crucial for the program.

— Rob Harrington

Can St. John's close the deal?

One of the interesting story lines as we near the early signing period is if the St. John's Red Storm can close the deal and reel in a class that potentially could make Steve Lavin's roster a very formidable one for the next several years.

The Red Storm are going to lose a significant amount of talent following this year in the form of D'Angelo Harrison, Phil Greene and Dom Pointer to graduation, and then there is always the chance that Rysheed Jordan decides to go pro. Because of that there is a lot of playing time to offer for the Red Storm,and also significant holes to fill.

In an ideal world for St. John's, they would fill those holes with three prospects: Cheick Diallo, Isaiah Briscoe and Brandon Sampson. Most have pegged St. John's as the clear leader for Briscoe with a decision coming any time, and also Sampson has rumored to be leaning to St. John's as well, though the timeline for his decision is less clear.

Beyond that, most consider St. John's at least a co-leader for Diallo, though he definitely will wait until the spring. If the Red Storm are able to land all three it would be a huge coup and give them one of the most talented rosters not only in the Big East, but also on the East Coast in general.

— Brian Snow

Evan Daniels, Brian Snow, Josh Gershon and Rob Harrington contributed to this report

Scout Hoops Top Stories