Let’s start out with a RockMNation Original Interview with Elijah Weaver. Weaver is a stud 6’5 5-star combo guard from Florida who has actually had an offer from Missouri for a while, but his old high school coach, at Oldsmar Christian in the Tampa area, was handling much of the recruiting part of it until he took a Grad Assistant job at Louisville. The program elevated assistant coach John Bianchi and after clarifying the offer Weaver and his coach made it public yesterday. I messaged Coach Bianchi and he, Elijah and myself sat down (on the phone) for a quick interview about the soon to be Junior. Elijah plays in the summer session on the Under Armor circuit for Team Breakdown.
RMN: What are some of the things that make Elijah Weaver a special player?
Bianchi: His work ethic, how humble he is. He’s always trying to do something to get better every single day. He doesn’t take plays off in games, and he’s also a great leader for our team.
RMN: What does Elijah do well and what does he need to work on?
Bianchi: What he does very well is pass the ball and see the floor. He gets his teammates involved. He’s also very good on the ball defensively. But most of all he’s so good at getting his teammates involved. And he still doesn’t know how good he can really be because he still has things he needs to work on to get better. Which I would say is his jumpshot getting more consistent. And sometimes just working on the making the simple play and not the flashy one.
RMN: With Elijah being an elite prospect, what are you gonna do to make sure he stays focused?
Bianchi: I’m gonna make sure he’s in the gym every single day working on his weaknesses, rounding out his game and keeping his strengths strong. Making sure that he has teammates around him who are on the same path, to keep him focused too. I want these guys focused together so we can win a state championship this year. Last year we made it to the finals but lost, but there would be no better feeling than to win this year. We were 32-6 last year. But we need to be better to win a championship.
I also want to make sure all these guys in the program are strong like they’ve been in the past. Coach Jordan Fair did a great job of bringing kids in every year which made it easier this year to get the talent around Elijah and the other returning guys. The goal is to get everybody to buy in and stay focused on school and next the state championship.
RMN: Elijah, what do you pride yourself on when you step into the gym?
Weaver: Just being a great leader. I pride myself on getting my teammates ready and making sure we’re always in the right state of mind and ready for whatever challenge we are about to be faced with.
RMN: How do you take on a leadership role when you’re not the oldest guy on the team?
Weaver: I just try to be very vocal. Being an underclassman, my teammates may not necessarily want to listen to me because I am the underclassmen. But being their point guard and the leader, I should be very vocal and let them know what time it is.
RMN: Hearing from your coach on your weaknesses, what are you doing to get yourself over the hump?
Weaver: I always try to focus in on my weaknesses. I’m cool with my jumpshot, everyday I’m working at game speed after practice. Getting in the weight room to get stronger, and making sure my body is right so I’m stronger than my opponent. It’s important for me to work on the little things, I pay attention to detail to make sure I’m the best I can be.
RMN: My favorite question... What schools are after you the hardest right now?
Weaver: Villanova, Louisville, Florida, Wake Forest, Florida State, Miami. I would say I talk to a lot of schools but those are the ones who are recruiting me the hardest.
RMN: How is your relationship with (lead recruiter) Rob Fulford?
Weaver: We’re starting to build a good relationship, he’s a good guy. I feel like our relationship will be very strong.
RMN: What sort of role do you think you can play at a school like Missouri that has struggled in the last few years?
Weaver: I feel like if I come into any program, I can be a leader and help turn a program like Missouri around. I’m very friendly, so whoever you bring in I can just adjust to who they are and we could become great friends and build chemistry off the court. Then when you get on the court it’s like you’ve been playing together forever, so that’s nothing.
RMN: Do you have a plan for the next two year in cutting your list?
No sir, I’m just focusing on getting in the gym. I’m not worried about the recruiting part because I want to get better.
RMN: Last thing, what would be your message to the fans and schools who are recruiting you as to the type of player you would be for their program?
Weaver: I would come in and be a hard worker and a leader. Even as an incoming freshmen I would still be very vocal with everybody, and make sure we are all on the same page. Just an all around leader, in the classroom. I’m trying to be a great teammate, and be as good of a teammate and leader that I can be.
My thanks to Elijah and his coach for taking the time to speak with me. I can say that I’ve spoken with a lot of kids, and I really enjoyed my talk with Elijah. He’s a smart and engaging kid, no matter where he ends up he’s going to be fine. You can follow Elijah on twitter: @___ewr
And his coach: @john_bianchi15
Now, let’s recourse a bit to the 2017 class
Mizzou sent out an offer the other day to North Carolina Post player Brandon Huffman, a 6’9 230 bruising forward. Then, just after that the bad news dropped, the North Carolina native was offered by in-state power North Carolina. Welp. I won’t spend a lot of time on Huffman because Mizzou coaches thought they were gonna be in a good spot up until the UNC offer rolled in. I have to imagine the Missouri coaching staff kind of throwing up their arms with that news.
So with the news of Huffman being pretty unlikely let’s talk briefly about their top targets. Mizzou is really focusing in on a few guys, knowing they don’t have many scholarships to give out. The top targets at this stage are Garrison Brooks, Nojel Eastern, V.J. Bailey, C.J. Roberts and Marcus Carr. We’ve talked about all of them so far, and coaches feel like they’re in good shape with everyone. They only need a couple and don’t really have a preference and would be happy with any two of the five. Competition for each guy:
Brooks: Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi State and about 6 others
Eastern: Purdue, Michigan State, DePaul
Bailey: Texas A&M, Texas
Top 100 national hoops recruit Victor Bailey confirmed w me tonight he'll take an official visit to A&M this weekend. @TexAgs— David Sandhop (@HopWebsider) September 1, 2016
Roberts: Georgia, LSU, Louisiana Tech
Carr: Pitt, Villanova, Houston
The team to watch with Eastern is Michigan St, they like him but aren’t in love with him. But they need guys, and Eastern is supposedly in love with the culture (which is understandable). The team to watch with Bailey is Texas, they haven’t completely come after him, so A&M is the leader. I’ve been told by multiple people if UT offers he’s all but a lock, the offer may not happen and with Bailey’s trip to College Station this weekend, a commitment is certainly possible. Roberts looks like a good fit for Mizzou or LSU, and Pitt is supposedly the team to beat for Carr. Brooks is all over the map and hasn’t narrowed his list, so we’ll see but I’m not feeling like that is a likely pickup.
2018 Offers and Things
We talked to Elijah Weaver up above, and he’s certainly a guy Mizzou would love to have. That said Louisville is a solid bet. His former coach is a Grad Assistant there now, and he’s been a top priority for Rick Pitino for a while. I would be surprised if he ended up elsewhere. Since our last post Mizzou lost out on a couple offers:
Desi Sills committed to Arkansas. The Razorbacks made the in-state product a priority and he jumped on board with an AAU teammate of his. So the Razorbacks already have two 2018 commitments, and both are in state.
Jordan McCabe committed to West Virginia. Word on McCabe is that most of the big schools backed off after he had a pretty terrible summer. The reason for the early commitment was to hold onto a high major offer since most saw him dropping down to a mid-major after the summer. And I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up at a prep school after he graduates before trying to get into WVU, not because of athletics but because he’s still got a ways to go before he’s ready for a power conference.
Kiyon Boyd, 4* Wing, 6-5 210 lb, Woodson HS, Washington DC
Boyd is a strong wing player with a good body and nice athleticism. He’s a guy with some time to go but considering he already has strong interest from Maryland, it would be tough to get him out of the DC area. But Missouri will make a pitch. Keep in mind also the Tigers do not have a lot of scholarships available for the class barring a big turnover. So they’re only looking for a couple guys in both the 2017 and 2018 classes.
We’ve talked about priorities for the class and they’re mostly the same. Carte’Are Gordon is one, Torrance Watson is another. They’d like a big, so they’ve already offered several including Christian Lorng, David McCormack and Ethan Henderson. And they’d like a guard who can score. They’ve stacked up offers at both positions and we’ll continue to track things as they progress.
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