Bossi's Best: Looking at recruiting in the major conferences
The early signing period for basketball begins Nov. 9. With Signing Day just over a month away, 96 members of the 2017 Rivals150 have already made their choices, so it’s a good time to check the recruiting temperatures of the major conferences.
Of the 54 players who still have decisions to make, 18 are five-star prospects and 29 rank among 2017’s top 50 players.
Today’s conditions: As a group, the ACC is off to a solid start. The 14 Rivals150 players committed to the conference is tied for second most of any conference and only one behind the Pac-12’s 15, but only three programs currently rank among the top 25 of the 2017 team rankings.
Of those 14 Rivals150 prospects committed, North Carolina-bound point guard Jalek Felton (No. 24 overall) is the only five-star who has currently committed to an ACC program while 11 four-stars have committed to the conference. Virginia Tech, which has landed a future backcourt of smooth scoring Nickeil Alexander-Walker and tough point guard Wabissa Bede, ranks the highest among teams at No. 9. Louisville scored big with skilled power forward Malik Williams (No. 29 overall).
Future forecast: So far, Duke -- which has been crushing it on the recruiting trail the past three years -- only has a commitment from four-star shooting guard Alex O’Connell, but the Blue Devils are looking strong with five-star big Wendell Carter and five-star shooting guard Gary Trent. Syracuse has yet to scratch in 2017, but the Orange are considered the team to beat for five-star point guard Quade Green and are right in the mix with a handful of other high level players. Basically, there doesn’t appear to be any cause for worry when it comes to conference recruiting and for the most part it looks like business as usual.
Today’s conditions: Of the major conferences, none has fewer Rivals150 commitments than the 10 currently held by the Big 12. Not a single five-star has committed to play for a member school and only Texas (No. 6) and TCU (No. 20) currently rank in the top 25 of the team recruiting ranking for 2017. Kansas has the highest ranked commitment in do-it-all guard Marcus Garrett (No. 37)
That isn’t to say that all is bad. For instance, Shaka Smart has continued to kill it, landing late-blooming four-stars like power forward Jericho Sims (No. 54) and shooting guard Jase Febres (No. 63). What Jamie Dixon is doing on the recruiting front at TCU, landing four-star shooting guard R.J. Nembhard (No. 71) and four-star center Kevin Samuel (No. 102), is historic by Horned Frogs’ standards. Iowa State also has a nice three-man class. Only four-star wing Terrence Lewis (No. 116) from the Cyclones' class ranks in the Rivals150, but three-star shooting guard Darius McNeill and three-star power forward Keyshawn Feazell sit just outside of the rankings.
Future forecast: As a whole, Big 12 recruiting has been down in comparison to the other major conferences for a few years now. Kansas is in the mix with several five-star players, such as combo guard Collin Sexton (No. 7) and five-star forward Billy Preston (No. 8). Oklahoma is fighting Kansas and Kentucky to keep five-star point point guard Trae Young (No. 15) home and Oklahoma State has also had Sexton on campus. In order to catch up, though, the Big 12 is going to have to start hitting on some of these big-timers.
Today’s conditions: The Big East is home to defending national champion Villanova and recruiting is experiencing a serious uptick. No five-star prospects have committed to a Big East school, but 13 members of the Rivals150 -- 11 of them four-stars -- have committed to member programs and five teams rank among the current top 25. Additionally, St. John’s has landed an unranked four-star in center Zach Brown.
Villanova ranks No. 13 in the team rankings and has the highest-ranked commitment in four-star small forward Jermaine Samuels (No. 46). Xavier actually ranks slightly ahead of the Wildcats in the team rankings at No. 12 and four-star wing Naji Marshall (No. 47) is the highest-ranked of their three Rivals150 commitments. With two four-star prospects each, Butler (No. 18), Creighton (No. 19) and Providence (No. 21) have also found their way into the top 25 of the team rankings by landing a pair of four-star prospects each.
Future forecast: It would be hard for the conference to recruit much better than it is currently doing. But, there’s still some room for upward mobility. Creighton made the final six for five-star wing Brian Bowen (No. 22) and Xavier looks like the favorite for high end four-star Paul Scruggs (No. 31) and has a shot with five-star wing Kris Wilkes (No. 18). It may not be the Big East readers grew up with, but the Big East is no slouch either.
Today’s conditions: Like the Pac-12, the Big Ten holds commitments from a per conference high 15 Rivals150 prospects. Of those 15, Michigan State-bound power forward Jaren Jackson (No. 15) and Illinois-bound center Jeremiah Tilmon (No. 25) rank the highest as five-star prospects. Of the other 13 ranked players headed to the Big Ten, 12 of them are four-star prospects.
Checking in at No. 5 overall, Illinois has the highest-ranked team recruiting class while Michigan State isn’t far behind at No. 8. With a pair of four-star prospects from Minnesota in big man Nathan Reuvers (No. 84) and point guard Brad Davison (No. 92), Wisconsin checks in at No. 15 while Michigan lands at No. 24 overall.
Future forecast: The Spartans are likely in the top three for five-star center Brandon McCoy (No. 11) and have a great shot with Brian Bowen (No. 22). Ohio State is squarely in the mix for five-star guard Troy Brown (No. 12) while Indiana is very much involved with several highly-ranked players and is perhaps the team to beat for five-star Kris Wilkes (No. 18). If some of these guys get closed, what is already a good recruiting year can become a great one for the Big Ten.
Today’s conditions: The Pac-12 is off to a terrific start in 2017 recruiting having already landed 15 Rivals150 players. The nation’s No. 1 player DeAndre Ayton is headed to Arizona and the No. 2 player Michael Porter is headed to Washington. UCLA has also landed a five-star prospect in point guard Jaylen Hands (No. 26).
Overall, the Huskies rank No. 2, the Wildcats rank No. 3 and the Bruins rank No. 7 in the team rankings. With three Rivals150 commitments, headlined by in-state shooting guard D’Shawn Schwartz (No. 64), Colorado also has a top 25 class and currently checks in at No. 14 overall.
Future forecast: Sean Miller and Arizona have a legitimate shot at finishing with the nation’s No. 1 class if they can add more five-stars like shooting guard Lonnie Walker (No. 20) or Brandon McCoy (No. 11). Stanford is still in the mix for some highly-rated guys and keep an eye on Oregon and USC as programs in good shape with several highly-ranked prospects. Basically, every program in the Pac-12 has revved up their recruiting and things are setting up for a big finish.
Today’s conditions: So far so good. Auburn has the No. 1 recruiting class to date in 2017 and the league's highest-ranked commitment in big man Austin Wiley (No. 16). Considering that Kentucky has yet to land a commitment from the class of 2017, the 14 Rivals150 members already committed to SEC programs is a pretty impressive number.
Arkansas, Texas A&M and Florida each have commitments from at least two Rivals150 prospects and check in at No. 16, No. 17 and No. 22 overall in the team rankings. Mississippi State hasn’t cracked the top 25, but the Bulldogs have a commitment from the highest-ranked shooting guard in America to have made his decision, Nick Weatherspoon (No. 28).
Future forecast: John Calipari has never had worse than the No. 2-ranked class since arriving in Lexington so we know that Kentucky is going to end up with one of the best classes in America. The Wildcats are among the favorites for enough five-stars - notably power forward P.J. Washington (No. 17) and center Nick Richards (No. 19) -- that we can’t list them all. Auburn doesn’t look to be done and Alabama is right in the mix for Collin Sexton (No. 6) and Troy Brown (No. 12) and looks to be in position to add two four-star prospects this week with shooting guard Herb Jones (No. 72) and power forward Alex Reese (No. 73) expected to make their decisions. To have any hope of keeping up with Kentucky, SEC schools really stepped up their recruiting in 2016 and they look to be continuing that trend in 2017.
Today’s conditions: Probably the recruiting story of 2017 lives outside of the major conferences and inside Conference USA where Rick Stansbury and Western Kentucky currently have the No. 4-ranked recruiting class in America. The Hilltoppers have turned many heads and dropped some jaws landing five-star center Mitchell Robinson (No. 6) and four-star shooting guard Josh Anderson (No. 43).
In total, 15 of the Rivals150 prospects who have committed have announced for programs outside of the major conferences. In addition to Western Kentucky, Connecticut (No. 11) and VCU (No. 25) have cracked the top 25 of the 2017 team rankings. Aside from WKU’s haul, UConn has the highest ranked commitment in point guard Makai-Ashton Langford (No. 38).
Future forecast: Who knows what else Stansbury is capable of but from here on out nobody will be underestimating him on the recruiting trail. Temple has quietly put together a nice class outside of the top 25, Tubby Smith has a pair of Rivals150 prospects in his first class at Memphis and has a chance with a few more. Harvard is the one team that could really impress if they could somehow pull off an upset to land either Mohamed Bamba (No. 3) or Wendell Carter (No. 5).