The state’s No. 1 college basketball prospect is still waiting to see who Missouri’s new coach will be before deciding whether or not to ask for a release.
Jakeenan Gant, a 4-star forward from Effingham County High School, signed with Missouri in November’s early period. He also transferred from Effingham to a Missouri prep school in early April.
Gant’s family is “still in shock” that Missouri coach Frank Haith accepted the Tulsa job last Thursday.
“It’s a big surprise when a coach tells you that he’s going to be there for the longevity of (Gant’s) career and then all of sudden he bolts out,” said Michael Stokes, Gant’s AAU coach, told the AJC on Tuesday. “Nobody saw that coming. College basketball is a business.”
Stokes said estimates that there’s an “80-percent chance” that Gant sticks with his original choice if Missouri assistant Tim Fuller stays on the staff in his current role or is promoted to head coach. “They just have a great relationship.”
If Gant decides to ask for a release from Missouri, he would likely have interest in Louisville and Indiana, among others, because those were Gant’s finalists when he signed with the Tigers.
Both UGA and Georgia Tech reportedly have heavy interest in Gant, but it’s not reciprocal. Stokes doubts that Missouri would release Gant to another SEC school and it probably wouldn’t matter anyways.
“Those guys, Georgia and Georgia Tech, had a chance to recruit him before he signed, and he (Gant) didn’t show interest then,” he said. “So I don’t know why it would be any different now.”
Stokes also offered some insight on Gant’s reasons for moving to Missouri only five weeks before his high school graduation:
“I just think he was ready to get out of Effingham County and get accustomed to the Missouri area,” Stokes said. “He was really ready to get out of the area, and I think it’s the best thing for him, too. It takes a little time to get used to a new environment and a new situation.”
RELATED: The state’s No. 2 prospect, guard Ahmed Hill of Aquinas high school, committed to Virginia Tech last weekend. Hill signed with Marquette in the early period, but requested a release after coach Buzz Williams left for Virginia Tech. Hill’s drama was another example of how “recruiting is all about the relationships.” Said Stokes, who also was Hill’s AAU coach: “It had to be Buzz Williams because Ahmed wasn’t even considering Virginia Tech before Buzz got there.” Hill can’t sign a second letter-of-intent, per NCAA rules, and will officially be a Virginia Tech recruit when he attends his first day of class at the ACC school this summer.
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