The state’s No. 1 high school basketball prospect appears to be off the board.
Before leaving for a visit to the University of Missouri, Effingham County High School senior Jakeenan Gant said he had no favorite. Before he touched down again in Savannah, he had committed to play for the Tigers.
“He said it went well and he liked it,” said ECHS head basketball coach Donnie Arrington, who spoke with Gant on Monday morning and Gant’s mother Lakina Bowman on Sunday. “He loved it.”
Gant visited the Columbia, Mo., campus over the weekend. Missouri assistant coach Dave Leitao came to ECHS late last season to see Gant play.
Missouri was Gant’s first official visit — and apparently his last, too. Prospects are allowed five official visits.
“He felt really at home out there,” Arrington said, “and everything seemed to be a great fit. He had a great visit and a great time.”
ESPN has ranked Gant as the No. 37 prospect nationally, and Rivals has rated him as No. 44 in the nation and as the top prospect in the state. Gant averaged 17.9 points and 9.3 rebounds per game as a junior and was named the Region 3-AAAAA player of the year and the state Class AAAAA player of the year by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He also was named to the Class AAAAA all-state team as a sophomore and a junior.
Gant averaged 16.5 points and 8 rebounds per game in his sophomore season.
Missouri was 23-11 last year, its first in the Southeastern Conference. The Tigers lost to Colorado State in the second round of the NCAA’s Midwest Regional. Frank Haith is about to enter his third year as the Tigers’ head coach.
Gant’s AAU teammate, Aquinas’ Ahmed Hill, is also a top prospect and may be joining Gant at Missouri. The Tigers also are said to be pursuing Moss Point, Miss., guard Devin Booker, another highly-recruited prospect whose father Melvin Booker starred at Mizzou.
“He’s convinced he’s going to get some help out there,” Arrington said.
Gant had a career-high 29 points in the state semifinal loss to Gainesville and pulled down a season-high 17 rebounds in the region championship victory over Jenkins.
Arrington also said the 6-foot-8 Gant liked how Missouri plans to use him.
“He thinks he’ll be able to play right away,” the coach said.
Since Gant announced his commitment Sunday, Arrington has been flooded with calls.
“My phone has been blowing up, that’s for sure,” he said.
According to Arrington, Gant had no further visits scheduled prior to the Missouri trip. He had been recruited by Georgia, Georgia Tech, Alabama and Florida State, among others. Though Gant has announced where he will go, Arrington expects several schools to continue to lobby him to change his mind.
The early signing period for national letters of intent runs from Nov. 13-20.
“There were several other guys dying to get in with him,” the coach said. “But unless I hear different, it’s over and done with.”
The Rebels posted their best season in school history last year, reaching the state semifinals and finishing at 27-5. Committing before the season could be a help, Arrington pointed out.
“He’ll be able to concentrate on his schoolwork and on being a senior,” he said. “It takes a little pressure off.”