Perhaps the greatest high school basketball player in the Springfield area’s history is entering his senior year, and there’s a chance we might have seen the last of him.
Greenwood five-star phenom Aminu Mohammed is still not committed to a college basketball program as he enters his final year with the Blue Jays. His guardian told the News-Leader on Tuesday evening that he might enroll early in a college due to the uncertainty around this upcoming season because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
And that means we’re approaching decision day — whether it’s in the next few weeks or at the Blue and Gold Tournament in late December if he were to choose to stay in high school.
Mohammed’s guardian, Shawn Harmon, has been very active in advising the player throughout the process. Harmon has proven to be a knowledgeable and good influence on Mohammed since picking the Nigerian-born prospect up from the JFK Airport in New York City when he was 14-years-old.
In this process, Harmon has made it clear that academics are important — which is why Mohammed has remained at Greenwood Laboratory School on the campus of Missouri State University. They’ve also approached the recruiting process looking for the best spot that will help Mohammed achieve his goals of one day going to the NBA.
That process could lead to Mohammed leaving Greenwood in the next few weeks for a collegiate program. Mohammed is physically ready for that level and a head-start practicing with a team and getting used to the speed of the college game will be attractive.
One thing that will be important to the possibility of an early enrollment will be the number of scholarships the different programs have available right now. For a school like Georgetown, that could be a struggle while Kansas State could find itself in a good position to land one of its better prospects in quite some time.
Mohammed has a plethora of options to choose from. Here’s a look at the different programs, in no particular order, hoping to land his signature.
Indiana Hoosiers men’s basketball
247Sports expert Jeff Ermann, who also serves as a publisher for Maryland coverage, predicts that Mohammed will end up at Indiana University. Rivals recruiting insider Eric Bossi also predicted Indiana, although he said he wouldn’t bet the house on it.
Archie Miller has been active in Mohammed’s recruitment since offering him in June 2019. Miller told Mohammed during the summer how he likes the way he moves without the ball and his ability to use ball screens.
An advantage Indiana has over others is that Mohammed was able to visit the school. The pandemic has put a halt to his ability to take many visits he would’ve liked to take these last few months.
Indiana currently has two open scholarships on its 2020-21 roster and should be seen as a candidate to land Mohammed.
Texas Longhorns men’s basketball
Shaka Smart’s Longhorns have recently emerged as a team that has been after Mohammed.
Harmon praised Smart during a Tuesday night interview. The Harmons moved from Washington DC to Springfield so Mohammed could be closer to his brother at Missouri State — so he’s closely familiar with Smart’s work at Virginia Commonwealth.
“I’ve always been intrigued by him as a coach,” Harmon said. “They have a nice situation down there.”
Texas is starting the season as the No. 19 team in the preseason Associated Press poll with an experienced roster that features four seniors and four juniors. Out of high school, Webster Groves (St. Louis) four-star recruit Courtney Ramey was the No. 1 player in Missouri in the 2018 class and is now a junior with the Longhorns.
It could be difficult for Texas to land Mohammed as an early enrollee. Verbal Commits’ scholarship chart says the Longhorns have filled all 13 scholarships.
Oklahoma State Cowboys men’s basketball
Oklahoma State is another program that has recently picked up on recruiting Mohammed. The Cowboys offered him on July 11.
Mike Boynton has a young team that features five sophomores and five freshmen — including the Class of 2020’s No. 1 overall prospect in Cade Cunningham. There’s a good chance the freshman decides to go to the NBA after one season.
Seeing the development of Cunningham could help Oklahoma State become more attractive to Mohammed — a potential NBA player in his own right. Early 2021 NBA mock drafts have Cunningham going No. 1 overall.
Oklahoma State has used all its available scholarships for the 2020-21 season, according to Verbal Commits — making it difficult for Mohammed to enroll early there.
Georgetown Hoyas men’s basketball
Head coach Patrick Ewing has been heavily involved in Mohammed’s recruitment but he’s going to find himself in a similar situation to Oklahoma State and Texas due to the lack of scholarships.
Georgetown added five freshmen going into this season, filling its roster. There aren’t many teams who kept scholarships available this season. Teams have wanted to have more players available in the event some have to quarantine due to contact tracing or testing positive for COVID-19. It’s a weird year and that’s why Mohammed’s exploring this route, to begin with.
Ewing has spoken very highly of Mohammed during Zoom calls. He told the senior that he has elite vision and is a playmaker who has the capability of being an All-Big East defensive player.
Georgetown is located in Washington DC — which is attractive to Mohammed and his family, being originally from the DMV area before moving to Springfield.
Maryland Terrapins men’s basketball
There was a time when Maryland appeared to be the team to beat to land Mohammed, but that seems to have lost steam behind programs such as Indiana, Georgetown and others.
Maryland is another program that has the advantage of being near Washington DC. Bossi wrote in July that it appeared the program hasn’t been too involved in his recruiting.
The Terps, like others, would have trouble getting Mohammed on campus this winter after filling all its scholarships.
Mohammed visited Maryland in 2019.
Georgia Bulldogs men’s basketball
Former Indiana head coach Tom Crean is now the head man of the Georgia Bulldogs and he coached Victor Oladipo in college.
It can be assumed he’s the one who compared Mohammed to the former second overall pick.
It’s not the first time someone has made the comparison.
“We know him,” Paul VI head coach Glenn Farello said of Mohammed at the 2020 Tournament of Champions. “We know how good and talented he is. He reminds me of Victor Oladipo back when Victor played (at a high school in Virginia) with how hard and relentless he is as a player. We’re going to root for him the rest of the season and the rest of the way.”
Crean will have the Oladipo pitch to sell to Mohammed and he can also sell Anthony Edwards’ development under his watch. Edwards is widely considered to be a contender for the No. 1 overall pick in the upcoming NBA Draft and he seemingly came out of nowhere.
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Kansas State Wildcats men’s basketball
Bruce Weber has been recruiting Mohammed hard and has done a good job forming a relationship with him.
Kansas State is one of the schools closer to Springfield which appears to be a serious option. Mohammed’s guardian is also looking over Victory Naboya — also a senior at Greenwood — and this could be a good regional situation to keep the family close together without moving.
Another advantage for the Wildcats? They are one of the few schools in the mix to have an open scholarship. That alone could make them one of the favorites.
Louisville Cardinals men’s basketball
Since the beginning of Mohammed’s recruitment, Louisville has always been in the mix.
Chris Mack has had Mohammed in on multiple visits and has had Louisville considered as one of the favorites. After a visit in 2019, Mohammed told the News-Leader that he was impressed with the fan support at Louisville.
“It’s a good school with a good basketball program,” Mohammed said. “They have fans coming to the game and watching the game. (Chris Mack) is a good coach and he’s going to do better this season coming up.”
247Sports previously had Louisville as the favorite to land Mohammed but then flipped to Indiana. The Cardinals don’t have any scholarships available in 2020-21.
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SMU Mustangs men’s basketball
Harmon said he was really impressed with what former Illinois State head coach and current SMU head coach Tim Jankovich pitched in a recent Zoom conference.
With one scholarship available for 2020-21, SMU could be an early enrollee option.
Also, SMU is a program that offered Naboya — Mohammed’s Greenwood teammate who is also under the care of Harmon. There aren’t many other teams who have made that gesture.
SMU is coming off a 19-11 season in the American Athletic Conference. This doesn’t seem like the most-likely option, but the Naboya angle is intriguing.
DePaul Blue Demons men’s basketball
A late submission into Mohammed’s list of suitors comes from Chicago-based DePaul.
DePaul, a Big East program, made an offer to Mohammed just last week. The Blue Demons haven’t typically landed major prospects.
In this case, DePaul might be throwing its hat in the ring knowing that Mohammed is exploring the possibility of becoming an early enrollee. Head coach Dave Leitao has one scholarship available for this upcoming season.
Worth mentioning: MSU, Pitsburgh, NBA G League
Missouri State is the one we’ve been asked about the most because it’s the local program, Greenwood is on its campus and his brother graduated from the program following the 2019-2 season.
We don’t see it happening. We think Dana Ford did the right thing by offering him — but we don’t think the Bears spent too much time going after him due to his status as one of the better players in the country. It would be a monumental surprise if this happens.
Pittsburgh is a program Bossi wrote about in July as a program that was making a big push for Mohammed and gaining steam. The Panthers don’t have any scholarships available in 2020-21.
Perhaps entering the NBA G League is an option? It’s starting to become a trend for some highly-touted recruits but I don’t think that’s what’s going to happen here. Academics are very important to this family and Mohammed takes it seriously.
Harmon said Tuesday night that entering a prep school isn’t something they’re interested in.
Wyatt D. Wheeler is a reporter and columnist with the Springfield News-Leader. You can contact him at 417-371-6987, by email at email@example.com or Twitter at @WyattWheeler_NL. You can subscribe to his free “Bears Beat” newsletter on News-Leader.com. He’s also the co-host of Sports Talk on Jock Radio weekdays from 4-6 p.m.