Early Signing Period Review : Southern Conference
The Southern Conference is a fun conference to watch. The SoCon Championship is held in beautiful Asheville, North Carolina every March and it is always a dogfight. Let’s see who will be continuing their story in one of the most storied conferences in the country. Let's dive in.
TOP OF THE CLASS: Mercer. Greg Gary and his assistant Bobby Kummer were at nearly every HoopSeen live period event that we held over the travel season. Gary, a former Purdue assistant, has a keen eye for talent and they have secured the top class in the Southern Conference for the 2022 cycle. Mercer’s four prospect class has size, experience, shooting and ball-handling.
TOP DOG: Michael Zanoni. One of the top shooters in the region, the 6-foot-5 Zanoni turned down some high-major offers before choosing Mercer. For Zanoni it turned out to be about finding the right fit instead of only having the opportunity to fight for minutes. I think Zanoni’s skills will translate well to the next level with his shotmaking ability. He can get hot from the outside and he can score with the ball in his hands or using screens and fighting for his way to get open.
When we first saw Zanoni as a skinny rising freshman at Providence Day we instantly knew he could shoot it. After a couple of full seasons playing under Hall of Famer Freddy Johnson, Zanoni can now defend, he can score from all spots on the floor and the biggest difference to me is his ability to create for his shot.
BEST FRONTCOURT: The Citadel. Our staff at HoopSeen have been impressed with Carpio each time we saw him at our events. HoopSeen Georgia editor Josh Tec wrote this earlier this summer, “Consistency, effort, and fundamentals. Those are some of the descriptors that pop into my head when I think about Carpio’s play this travel season. Every week, Carpio produced and helped lead the Allstars to a lot of wins. The big fella operates as fundamentally, soundly around the basket as anyone. He’s a reliable source for a bucket when needed, and he’s a rim-protecting defensive stalwart on the other end of the floor. He has great touch around the basket, and he’s shown that he can extend out to the perimeter as well."
BEST BACKCOURT: This one could be a toss up. I really like Team Judah’s Jah Quinones for Mercer. He is a big and powerful downhill guard that can bully smaller defenders. The pick-up for The Citadel is strong with the shooting ability of Colby McAllister and then we have the shooting ability of Donovan Atwell up at UNC-Greensboro. All three of those schools boosted their backcourt play and time will tell who makes the biggest impact. If I had to bet on it, I would say that Quinones might be the most physically ready for college basketball and will make the biggest impact early when he arrives in 2022.
HEY, I HAVE A HOOPSEEN CHAPTER: Colby McAllister. Playing with Team Speights Alabama, McAllister is a guy that can make a lot of tough shots from the perimeter and put on a show at our HoopSeen Best of the South where he averaged 25 points per game over that monster weekend in Atlanta. The 6-foot-3 guard was named to our HoopSeen All-Association Second Team.
THE FOUR THINGS I LIKE THE MOST:
- The four man class of 2022 for Mercer is full of guys that can make some noise at all positions on the floor. This cycle, Greg Gary and staff made some smart recruiting moves and they have paid off. Purdue Head Coach Matt Painter loves big guys and when he saw Tennessee Tigers 7-footer David Craig, his former assistant Greg Gary knew he could be good. Mercer is taking a gamble on Craig but if it pays off he could be a dominant force in the Southern Conference in two years. In the transfer market, Mercer also pulled in former Wake Forest and Tennessee guard Jalen Johnson who should immediately make an impact.
This is a hell of a recruiting class Mercer, Greg Gary and staff has hauled in for the Southern Conference. Michael Zanoni, Craig, Jah Quinones, and TJ Grant. Craig can be a monster in that conference. https://t.co/dxWVLmQ0Og— Justin Byerly (@JustinByerly) October 17, 2021
- Furman Head Coach Bob Richey with a solid two-man class he is bringing to Greenville, South Carolina led by small forward Davis Molnar. He is a coach’s son and has a high basketball IQ, he’s versatile and I could see him playing three positions for The Paladins. Molar spent the travel season with Team Wall and was one of the best small forwards we saw.
- Western Carolina University Head Coach Justin Gray went into South Carolina and picked up big man Marcus Kell. The 6-foot-8 prospect can score from the perimeter and can get baskets in the paint. WCU’s two-man class so far in the cycle is heading in the right direction.
- East Tennessee State’s Desmond Oliver picked up Oak Hill Academy’s Jeremy Gregory, who is originally from Charlotte, North Carolina. The burly 6-foot-8 forward has some tools and the skillset to make some noise as soon as he steps on the Johnson City, Tennessee campus.
TOP PG: Jah Quinones, Mercer
TOP SG: Colby McAllister, The Citadel
TOP SF: Jeremy Gregory, East Tennessee State
TOP PF: Tony Carpio, The Citadel
TOP C: David Craig, Mercer
TOP CLASS: Mercer
TOP SLEEPER: Davis Molnar, Furman
TOP SHOOTER: Donovan Atwell, UNC Greensboro