Recruiting Notebook: Barnes, Muhammad & USC

In this weeks edition of the notebook we break down Harrison Barnes' recruitment, take an inside look at Shabazz Muhammad and admire Darrin Horn's terrific recruiting haul at South Carolina.

Handicapping The Harrison Barnes Race

It sounds like Harrison Barnes' recruitment may come to an end earlier than expected.

In typical Barnes fashion, the 6-foot-8 small forward sent out a press release on Thursday confirming suspicions that he is now planning to sign during the November period.

"To date, the Fall Contact Period is going extremely well," Barnes said. "I credit my previous unofficial visits for equipping me in making this process manageable."

He also set his final visit dates. Barnes visited North Carolina in early September and is now set to embark on a number of visits in October and one in November.

Oct. 3: Oklahoma
Oct. 10: UCLA
Oct. 17: Kansas
Oct. 24: Duke
Nov. 7: Iowa State (unofficial)

So what do we make of all of this?

Basically there is still a lot to play out here. We'd be surprised if Barnes didn't take all five of his scheduled visit, especially since Duke, who is the presumed favorite, is one of the last on the list.

While we may believe Duke is at the top of the list, it's not going to be an easy finish. North Carolina certainly made up a significant amount of ground during his official visit to Chapel Hill.

Our sleeper team in all of this is Jeff Capel's Oklahoma squad. He's quietly building a monster of a program in Norman (Okla.), and he's developed a strong relationship with Barnes and his family.

Kansas has been strong in the mix for quite some time, UCLA always has plenty to offer, as they consistently turn out pros, and Iowa State is the hometown school, so we are in for an interesting finish.

South Carolina Loads Up

Darrin Horn is off to a great start at South Carolina. After leading his team to a 20-win season, Horn is looking at a possible top 10 recruiting class.

"It's pretty impressive," Analyst Dave Telep said. "They're working hard to develop relationships in North Carolina (it's the second year they've signed a Top 100 recruit from the state) all the while moving quickly on key in-state targets. I think they've got a young staff who took a lot of pride in this class and it showed."

Last week Horn and his staff added borderline top 50 prospect Bruce Ellington, an electrifying guard with terrific speed, to his class. Now he's picked up Top 50 and rising big man Damontre Harris.

"Damontre Harris has to be one of the surprise stories of the year," Telep said. "From his first game against Ryan Kelly as a junior to his final performance (and it was all that) at the AAU nationals, he's gotten better on a daily basis. From a USC standpoint, he matches exactly with their frontcourt philosophy of playing at the rim, running and being athletic and versatile."

Ellington and Harris are joined by top 100 prospect R.J. Slawson, as well as three-star prospects Brian Richardson and Eric Smith.

Underclassman Up Close: Shabazz Muhammad

Shabazz Muhammad may only be a sophomore in high school, but the Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman product already holds offers from some major programs.

The five-star prospect credits his strong play throughout the spring and summer to the rise in his recruitment.

"I saw a real big difference after playing with the Dreamvision team," Muhammad said. "I got a lot of exposure and it's been going good with my recruitment."

UCLA, Louisville, Wake Forest, UNLV, USC, Texas and Kansas have all thrown scholarships his way and each school has been to Las Vegas to watch him workout in September. North Carolina made the trip too.

"They told my coach that they are probably going to end up offering," Muhammad told during the Las Vegas Fall Showcase on Wednesday.

Despite all the early interest, don't expect Muhammad to make a commitment in the near future. In fact, he's planning to wait until his junior season before he begins getting serious with the process.

"Basically I need to take my visits," Muhammad said. "I like a lot of schools and a lot of schools have offered. I'm just going to take my visits and talk to the coaches."

"I'm probably going to make it my junior year," he added. "I want to be able to talk ot my family and talk to all the coaches and get familiar with their programs."

Visits are Few, But Have High Implications

There aren't many visits this weekend, but that doesn't mean there aren't some important ones. In fact this weekend is huge when it comes to implications.

Kyrie Irving, who recently cut his co-leader Indiana from his list, will take an official visit to one of his favorites – Duke -- this weekend. Throughout the process Irving has made it clear that if he gets a feeling he could commit on the spot. Will it be this weekend?

Brandon Knight, the top rated lead guard, will be at Connecticut for an official visit this weekend. The Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) Pine Crest standout is on his second visit in as many weeks and appears to be focusing more on his recruitment.

While it wouldn't surprise us to see him sign late, he's clearly interested in taking official visits. Florida and Miami are also strong here, while Kansas and Syracuse are also in the picture.

Adreian Payne has always been somewhat of a mystery, so it'll be interesting to see how his recruitment develops, as he's set to take his first visit this weekend to Kentucky. West Virginia is next on the visit list, and Arizona will likely get one as well.

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