MW Basketball: We’ve Got A Good Old Fashion Recruiting Standoff On Our Hands
Four-Star Center set to make his decision on Wednesday June 3rd, the Aztecs and Lobos both land in his final-four.
Both teams make the final-four list of coveted center, Wednesday’s commitment will be reminiscent of past recruiting battles between these conference foes.
The recruitment of Frank Anselem has been full of surprises, to say the least, but at the onset of June, the highly sought after center looks towards the future. As he announced a scheduled commitment on Wednesday, June 3rd along with a final-four list of schools that includes Mountain West members New Mexico and San Diego State.
The 6-foot-10, 220 pound Center from Suwanee, GA opted to play his junior season at Prolific Prep in Napa, CA alongside and against some of the top players from around the country. His recruitment has been a bit all over the place in the last couple of months, as a previous commitment to LSU as a member of the 2021 recruiting class gave way to Anselem reclassifying to the 2020 class and was followed by his decommitment from the Tigers.
Then, while he began to reel in interest from dozens of programs nationwide, he announced a top-3 list that included Alabama, LSU and Georgia in mid-April. That seemed to be it for many programs recruiting the Nigerian big man until he announced a new final-six list a couple of weeks later that included Arkansas, Kentucky, San Diego State, Seton Hall, Syracuse and Western Kentucky.
As Aztec faithful prepared to do battle with some of the sports biggest programs, an elite recruiter at Western Kentucky in Rick Stansbury and the former Mountain West transfer whisperer himself Eric Musselman, things took another turn. More than a month later we have another group of finalists as Anselem announced a scheduled commitment date of Wednesday June 3rd while also announcing the four schools he will decide between.
The final-4 include Georgia who was included in his initial top-3, Syracuse and San Diego state who were both mentioned in the top-6 that followed and lastly New Mexico who seemingly came out of nowhere at the last minute to get folks out in Albuquerque excited for a possible mid-week four-star commitment.
San Diego State and New Mexico both being in the running for the same top recruit is reminiscent of years past when recruiting battles between these two conference rivals took place annually and only provided an added element to an already competitive rivalry. With San Diego State securing the commitments of top-ranked high school players like Zylan Cheatham, Winston Shepard & Trey Kell over New Mexico. While the Lobos secured transfers like Elijah Brown and Tim Williams over the Aztecs.
Now, a commitment from Anselem may mean two very different things for these two teams. San Diego State is coming off of one of their most successful seasons in school history, but lose most of their size from this past season. They secured the commitment of Big Ten transfer Joshua Tomaic this past month, in hopes of producing the same impact SEC transfer Yanni Wetzell had in 2019-2020.
Though aside from Tomaic there hasn’t been many additions to the Aztec frontcourt this off-season. Anselem would be one of three scholarship players standing above 6-7, and while possibly returning Swiss army knife Matt Mitchell can certainly defend some opposing big men if needed, you have to prepare for scenarios that could deplete your depth, like injuries, transfers, etc.
While if he were to choose New Mexico he would join a similar situation where the Lobos only have three clear big men on their roster but possibly have a little more wiggle room for quality minutes down low.
Paul Weir and company return only two returning starters (Zane Martin & Makuach Maluch) and only one player (Keith McGee) who saw double-digit minutes last season, none should see any minutes in the post come fall. So the Lobos have the ability to offer quality playing time right away compared to the Aztecs, who field Matt Mitchell and two probable starters in Tomaic and Nathan Mensah.
Either way you look at it, a commitment to either Mountain West team should mean playing time for Anselem. Now whether he plans to spend that time on the court in Albuquerque, which seems very probable or possibly battling for minutes on a conference front runner next season in San Diego seems to be the big question.
But you also shouldn’t forget that these two teams only have a 25% chance to land his services next season, they have to contend with two power-five powerhouses who have just as equal of a shot.
24/7 Sports Scouting report on Anselem: Athletic center with outstanding frame. Good size, wide shoulders and very long arms. Strong kid but not maxed out. Still raw on offense but physical tools give him very high upside. Has budding elbow jumper and hook shot but footwork and post moves can improve. Has a chance to be a high-level rebounder and rim protector given size, length, and athleticism. Still inconsistent but the upside is very high. Projects as high major starter with professional upside dependent on the development of skill.