MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — As point guard Tarik Phillip prepared to make a weekend recruiting visit to West Virginia, his junior college coach said Thursday that Kansas has taken an interest.
“The University of Kansas was in today to see him,” Independence (Kan.) Community College coach Tony Turner told MetroNews. “They are aware that he’s going on a visit to West Virginia this weekend. He’s got two big dogs in the Big 12 recruiting him, and he’s just looking for the right fit.”
A redshirt freshman this season, the 6-foot-3 Phillip averaged 18.7 points, 6.7 rebounds and 4.7 assists for Independence, becoming MVP of the Jayhawk Conference. Because he sat out most of first semester as a transfer, power conference teams had fewer opportunities to see him play.
West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins and assistant Larry Harrison liked what they saw upon visiting Phillip in late March, subsequent providing his first high-profile offer of this recruiting cycle. Back in 2012, Phillip had committed to South Carolina but failed to qualify academically.
“He liked talking with Larry and Coach Huggins and I think he’s leaning toward West Virginia,” Turner said.
Whether Kansas has officially extended a scholarship offer was unclear, but Turner said “they have a spot for him.” Freshman center Joel Embiid formally announced Thursday his plan to enter the NBA draft.
Juwan Staten’s decision not to enter the draft hasn’t deterred Phillip from prioritizing West Virginia or WVU from pursuing him.
“Tarik’s not going to worry about that,” Turner said. “He’s the kind of player who will figure out a way to get on the court, and he’ll look forward to playing alongside (Staten).
“He’s a point guard and a two-guard—he’s just a ‘guard.’ He can play the one, two or three. He’s about ‘Let’s do whatever we can to win games and compete for a national championship.’ That’s the kind of kid he is.”
West Virginia’s coaching staff went searching for another guard recruit when sophomore Eron Harris asked to transfer in the aftermath of a first-round NIT loss at Georgetown.
Phillip shot 55 percent from the floor overall and 38 percent from 3-point range, attempting three 3s per game.
“He can get to the rack … but you can’t label him as a kid who couldn’t shoot, because if you sag off of him he’ll make the jumper,” Turner said. “He could score from wherever you needed him to score.
“He’s just a very coachable kid and I think teams will see how much he affects the game.”
Forced to sit out his senior year at Brooklyn (N.Y.) Academy reportedly because of a disciplinary issue, Phillip spent a post-graduate season at Queen City Prep in Charlotte, N.C., where he averaged 26 points and seven assists per game before committing to South Carolina.
“Phillip is aggressive on both ends of the floor and has a pit-bull mentality,” Cummings said. “He will have three years of eligibility and has the mentality that should help him fit into the program.”