Joseph Santoliquito (@JSantoliquito)
It’s as if there’s not enough basketball in a day for Dan Skillings Jr. On Sunday afternoon, the 6-foot-6, 195-pound Roman Catholic senior star got off a plane from Raleigh, North Carolina, where he just visited North Carolina State, and headed right to Friends’ Central School to join his Roman teammates in the City of Basketball Love Interstate Shootout.
Skillings had some important future cargo to unpack, like his college destination.
He’s exploded this summer. Seven months ago, the ultra-athletic wing who plays some point guard didn’t have a college offer—not one. As July closed, he had close to 30.
As September nears its end, he’s narrowed his list down to a fortunate five, in alphabetical order: Cincinnati, Miami (Fl.), North Carolina State, Pittsburgh and Virginia Tech.
Skillings broke down what he likes about each school.
Former Duke star Jeff Capel is entering his third season at Pitt, which finished 16-17 last season, doubling its win total in the rugged ACC, including a season-opening win over eventual 2020 ACC champion Florida State and a rare season sweep over North Carolina. It marked the first time Pitt swept multiple games from an ACC opponent in a season since 2016, when the Panthers beat Syracuse three times.
“They have a great coach, a great coaching staff and a coaching staff that will support you,” Skillings said. “They’re real with you and they don’t give it to you fake. They tell you how it is. (Capel) won’t tell you that you’re going to start or how many minutes that you’re going to get. You have to work for your stuff.”
Miami is coached by the legendary Jim Larranaga, whose Hurricanes finished 10-17 overall last season. In April, Miami hired former Roman assistant DJ Irving, the Archbishop Carroll star who went on to play for Boston University and worked with AAU program Team Final.
“Coach DJ and I connect really well, so I know he’ll have my best interest,” Skillings said. “I know if I give Miami a visit, he’ll take care of me.”
Skillings has not made an official visit to Virginia Tech, and said he’s finished his official visits right now. The Hokies went 15-7 last year under head coach Mike Young, who enters his third season. The Hokies lost to Florida in overtime in the first round of the NCAA Tournament last season.
“I speak a lot to Virginia Tech, and I’m done taking my visits at the moment, but they came to a lot of my games and supported me and they’ve seen me play,” Skillings said. “We connect well and they see me playing in their program in 2022.”
Skillings spent the weekend down in Raleigh, where he visited the North Carolina State campus. The Wolfpack are coached by Kevin Keatts, whose entering his fifth season. The Wolfpack went 14-11 last year.
“It was really nice down there and I really enjoyed it,” Skillings said. “It’s down there in ‘The Triangle,’ with Duke and North Carolina and the games are really packed. It’s really crazy down there. Coach Keatts is a really, really good coach and really, really good guy and he gives you opportunities to be great. He keeps it real with you. It’s a high level ACC.
“There’s a lot of love over there.”
Wes Miller was named head coach at Cincinnati on April 14, 2021. He comes to the Bearcats after being the head coach at UNC Greensboro for a decade, where he built the Spartans into perennial championship and NCAA Tournament contenders. That Miller was named as ESPN.com’s No. 1 Coach Under 40 in May 2020 and also made The Athletic’s 40 Under 40 list a year ago caught Skillings’ attention.
Cincinnati finished 12-11 overall last year and reached the American Athletic Conference tournament title game, where it lost to Houston. Cincinnati fired head coach John Brannen on April 9 after just two seasons under a haze of mass transfers that caused a school investigation.
“Wes Miller is a great coach and a top-two coach under the age of 40, and they’re going to the Big 12 in 2022 and leaving the American Conference, so that’s a big step for them,” Skillings said. “Coach Miller is a down-to-earth guy. They have a great program and support system. They will be there for you, and they have a great support system within all of their sports teams.
“The coaching staff is great and they all trust each other and work well as a team. There’s no hate. It’s all love. I’m settling down with some schools at the moment. I’m going to be talking things over with my father (Daniel Skillings Sr.), my uncle (Michael Skillings) and my personal trainer, Ken Jackson, who’s one of my No. 1 guys who helps me with everything. He’s helped me out a lot since 10th grade, when I started taking basketball seriously.
“Coach Jackson came and watched me play and we got to work. He made sure he had my back before I was nothing at all. He was there for me. He’s also my AAU coach for Philly Pride.”
Temple, La Salle, Drexel and Penn State made Skillings offers, but Villanova and St. Joseph’s didn’t.
“I’m going to go to whatever schools gave me love and gets me to the next level,” Skillings said. “It’s a list that’s set and whatever coaches give me love I’ll give love to. I’m going to go wherever the most love is. I’ll take my time with a decision.”
Joseph Santoliquito is an award-winning sportswriter based in the Philadelphia area who began writing for CoBL in 2021 and is the president of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be followed on Twitter here.