Tech had also scheduled an official visit with small forward Ismael Massoud of the Bronx, N.Y., but he committed to Wake Forest prior to his visit to Tech. It leaves point guard Boogie Ellis, a top-50 guard from San Diego and another valued prospect, but Tech’s competition includes Duke and North Carolina, which does not bode well. Going 0-for-4 (0-for-5 including Massoud) would not be a surprise.
Pastner did receive a commitment on Sunday from junior-college prospect of David Didenko (more below), leaving Tech with two open scholarships for 2019-20. The players who enroll next summer may prove great over time, as was the case with Lammers and Okogie, but it doesn’t seem likely that the 2019 class will stand out in the conventional sense of recruiting rankings, or in the way that Pastner himself shared with the AJC in May 2017.
“We’ve got to get two or three studs in that class,” he said. “We’ve got to get a couple Josh Okogies in that class.”
Tech continues to recruit other seniors, including forward Chandler Lawson of Memphis, Tenn. Pastner recruited his brothers to Memphis, but they are both now at Kansas, which is also recruiting Chandler. Another is point guard Damion Baugh, a four-star prospect from Memphis whom Pastner reportedly visited on Sunday. (Baugh’s AAU team was founded by former Tech one-and-done star Thaddeus Young.)
But Watson’s decision to play for Oklahoma State and coach Mike Boynton – Watson’s cousin – was a setback, as he is the sort of elite in-state prospect who has eluded Tech, and one that Pastner and his staff seemed capable of bringing in once they were given time to develop relationships. Out of seven high-school prospects signed by Pastner in his first two recruiting cycles, only one is from the state of Georgia – sophomore forward Evan Cole. Freshman guard Michael Devoe is the only one of the seven to be rated in the top 100 of the 247 Sports composite list.
Pastner did also receive the commitment Sunday from Didenko, from Boca Raton, Fla. Didenko was lightly recruited out of high school, and decided to enroll at Palm Beach State College to play against college competition and increase his visibility. A 6-foot-8 forward, Didenko is said to be an excellent perimeter shooter with good passing vision. Didenko’s coach at Palm Beach State, Martin McCann, said that Didenko was drawing the attention of schools such as Virginia Tech, Nebraska and Kansas State through preseason workouts and scrimmages. He will have immediate eligibility and three seasons to play when he enrolls next summer.
The early signing period begins November 14. Pastner may leave one of the two open scholarships unfilled in the fall in hopes of landing a transfer or pick up an unsigned high-school prospect in the spring.