The search for size has dominated much of this recruiting cycle for Providence as they have tried to replace the transfer of Paschal Chukwu and the decision by Ben Bentil to stay in the 2016 NBA Draft. Ed Cooley grabbing a commitment from Canadian big man Kalif Young to finish off the Class of 2016 helped and Cooley also has Virginia 7-footer Dajour Dickens committed in the Class of 2017. Big men are certainly a focus, but Cooley has also kept a keen eye or two on Makai Ashton-Langford along the way. Cooley and his staff have attended plenty of Cushing Academy and Mass Rivals games over the last couple years and the lead guard has noticed. It isn’t news that Ashton-Langford has preferred three particular schools throughout this process but on Sunday his Mass Rivals coach, Vin Pastore, confirmed that all three of those schools will get official visits from him in September, as reported by Evan Daniels of Scout.com.
First up will be the school furthest from his Worcester, MA home as he will take a trip down to Louisville the weekend of September 3rd. The Cardinals seem to have entered the fray while Connecticut and Providence were the top 2, but the fact that Ashton-Langford will visit clearly means he’s serious about leaving home for school. It has long been thought that his preference was to stay close to home, which has led to some schools out of the area not recruiting him. Rick Pitino hasn’t slowed down his pursuit of the hard-nosed lead guard. Louisville currently has three open scholarships for the class of 2017 and, as of right now, their only scholarship point guard on the roster for the 2017-18 season will be then-senior Quentin Snider. The Cardinals are also involved with fellow point guards Darius Perry, Matt Coleman and Paul Scruggs, among a few others.
Next will be a visit to the school he’s been a fan of since he was a boy: Connecticut. That visit is scheduled to take place the weekend of September 10th. UConn and Kevin Ollie have been all over Ashton-Langford and, in addition to having the fanhood in their favor, the Huskies also have good friend and former teammate Jalen Adams manning their backcourt. Adams and Ashton-Langford were backcourt-mates for Mass Rivals and would have been teammates at Cushing for the 2014-15 season — Ashton-Langford’s first year at Cushing — until Adams opted to his postgrad year at Brewster Academy, something Ashton-Langford will also be doing. UConn certainly has a lot going for them in the way of relationships, but the Huskies may also have the most crowded backcourt of the three schools recruiting Ashton-Langford hardest. In addition to Adams, who will be a junior by the time Ashton-Langford arrives at school in September 2017, UConn also has Alterique Gilbert and Christian Vital committed in the class of 2016. Gilbert is a top-40 player in the class, while Vital chose UConn after de-committing from UNLV. UConn has shown a proclivity for playing multiple ball handlers at the same time, though. Ollie is also chasing other guards in the class of 2017 like Scruggs, Coleman and Tremont Waters, among a few others.
Ashton-Langford’s final visit is scheduled for Friartown the weekend of September 17th. Cooley has been on Ashton-Langford since the spring before he left St. Peter-Marian to go to Cushing Academy. Providence was the second high major to offer a day after Boston College let their interest be known. The Friars will have then-senior Kyron Cartwright and then sophomore Maliek White as point guards in their backcourt for the 2017-18 season, but Cooley has continued to pursue Ashton-Langford because he is an elite recruit who will find his way onto the floor early and often at whatever school he chooses. Providence getting the final visit could prove to be the advantage they need to seal the deal with the top-40 ranked guard, though I do not expect him to commit on any of his visits. As noted, Providence is focused mainly on big men in 2017 besides Ashton-Langford, so if he chooses another school the focus on guards will move completely to the classes of 2018 and 2019.
Providence technically only has one more open scholarship for the class of 2017, but August 8, 2016 is far too early to worry about scholarship math for the 2017-18 season with the amount of transfers that occur in college basketball each year. One additional note, though I don’t think it’s as relevant as with some other recruits, is that neither Louisville or UConn will have their football teams playing at home the weekend that Ashton-Langford will be on their respective campuses. Louisville opens their season on the Thursday before the visit, while UConn travels to Navy on September 10th.
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