Anthony Bennett (Rivals)The assumption as recently as last week among those who cover recruiting was that highly touted forward Anthony Bennett would select either Kentucky or Florida when he finally decides on a college later this month.
Turns out that couldn't have been more wrong.
Bennett, the top unsigned recruit in the class of 2012, revealed this weekend he has eliminated both Florida and Kentucky from his list. Instead the 6-foot-7 Findlay Prep star will choose between UNLV and Oregon, two schools whose prospects for next season could improve dramatically with him in the fold.
UNLV would appear to be the slim favorite if only because of Bennett's relationship with the coaching staff and with fellow Canada native Khem Birch, the Pittsburgh transfer who has actively tried to persuade Bennett to join him with the Rebels.
The trio of Bennett, Birch and Mike Moser would give UNLV a frontcourt of three potential future pros, all of whom complement one-another well. Throw in the return of slasher Anthony Marshall and defensive stopper Justin Hawkins in the backcourt as well as the arrival of USC transfer Bryce Jones and sweet-shooting incoming freshman Katin Reinhardt, and the Rebels could be a preseason top 15 team.
The appeal of Oregon would be that immediate playing time is more readily available than any other school that was on Bennett's list. With Olu Ashuaolu and Jeremy Jacob leaving, the Ducks would love to plug Bennett in between small forward E.J. Singler and center Tony Woods to form a formidable trio of their own.
There are reportedly concerns about Bennett's academic eligibility next season, but it's still difficult to believe either Florida or Kentucky wouldn't have taken him if given the chance.
Kentucky will now likely turn its attention to trying to pry unsigned forward Amile Jefferson away from NC State and Duke in its quest to add depth to next year's talented yet paper-thin roster. Florida has Patric Young, Eric Murphy and Will Yeguete in its frontcourt for next season, but the strong possibility of at least two of those three leaving after next season has Billy Donovan scrambling to find more interior depth.
Bennett could have been the impact big man Florida needed, but instead he's staying out West. For either Oregon or UNLV, that could be a huge boost.