Talent Spread: Top players committed by conference
There is still work to be done by the goliaths of the college basketball world, as half of the 28 five-star prospects remain on the board. As the signing period tips off today, we give a quick rundown on the top five prospects, regardless of position, headed to each power league, along with a sleeper to track for the years ahead.
Analysis – North Carolina sits with the top class in the ACC, but it is its blueblood competitors, the Duke Blue Devils, that boast two of the top commitments in the league this fall. Reddish is a mix of versatility, ball skills and raw talent that should translate to immediate production in Durham. He will be joined by an efficient and elite facilitator in Jones, the younger brother of former Duke standout guard Tyus Jones. Little is the first top-five pledge for the Tar Heels since Harrison Barnes, and is a prospect that can contribute on both sides of the floor. Bazley takes his high potential and scoring acumen to Syracuse, and Wake Forest found a way to land a top-50 recruit for the second consecutive year with French import Hoard. The under-the-radar snag is Sjolund, a bouncy, skilled and versatile forward who committed to Georgia Tech and adds more talent to Josh Pastner's team in Atlanta.
Analysis – Villanova remains the don of the Big East, and upon taking a sneak peak at the 2018 class, the Wildcats' dominance over the league could remain strong. Swider, the ideal small-ball power forward, is headed to the Main Line, as is Slater, a long, lefty wing that is an athletic shooter who could thrive under Jay Wright’s tutelage. The talents of elite defender Duke and his travel teammate, shot-making wing Reeves are in the hopper, and they are two recruits who should produce immediately at Providence. Hauser will follow his brother to Marquette next year, as the top-50 pledge should only bolster Steve Wojciechowski’s offense that remains among the nation's best. Looking for a sleeper? Nelson might be the guy, as the 6-foot-4 combo guard has similar traits to Seton Hall all-conference guard Khadeen Carrington, a role that Nelson could overtake upon the senior guard’s graduation.
Analysis – The times have changed, as the name-brand programs that normally dominate the Big Ten do not boast a top pledge this fall. That can only better the competition in the league, as Illinois hopes to gain some momentum, thanks to the commitment of top in-state senior Dosunmu, the school’s first five-star pick-up since Dee Brown. Maryland struck again at Mount St. Joseph’s High School with Smith, a prospect nicknamed ‘Sticks,’ and once he gets stronger, his game could skyrocket. Iowa has held onto the three-year commitment of skilled shooter Wieskamp, and Maryland has one of the most improved seniors headed its way in top-50 wing Wiggins. Archie Miller doesn’t have a star-studded class, but it is one that is built on depth - four-star forward Hunter has the raw abilities to contribute immediately in Bloomington. Arguably, the top sleeper headed to a power conference program, Washington Jr., the nephew of Derek Fisher, could work his way into starter’s minutes as a freshman at Ohio State. He's a guard who can make shots, but also be used on the ball in spurts.
Analysis – Kansas has dominated the Big 12 over the past 13 years by securing at least a tie of the league’s regular season title each of those seasons. The Jayhawks’ reign over the conference could hover around a bit longer, as they secured the commitments of the top three pledges to a Big 12 program. Dotson is a downhill driver and competitive lead guard in the mold of past KU star Frank Mason. Dotson will be aided in the frontcourt by explosive finisher DeSousa and a high-motored center with a nastiness on the glass: McCormack. Shaka Smart has had no issues on the recruiting trail since taking over at Texas, as the versatility of Liddell and the unselfish approach and intangibles brought to the court by Hepa, the Alaskan, should only strengthen the culture that Smart has attempted to restore in Austin. Oklahoma State faces some needs in the frontcourt, but Mike Boynton may have found the replacement for outgoing senior Jeffrey Carroll in Florida native DeMuth, a perimeter-based power forward that can shoot, pass and rebound.
Analysis – Oregon remains in the hunt for a number of other elite prospects this fall, but it has already secured the pledge of the top Pac-12 commitment: King. A versatile and skilled wing, King should thrive in Eugene. Arizona has faced some uncertain times due to the FBI investigation that saw assistant coach Book Richardson arrested, though O’Neal, the son of Shaquille O’Neal, has remained firm with his pledge. Trailing the two five-stars are three USC commitments. Cherry has the game to replace Bennie Boatwright, Weaver brings unbelievable size and passing skills to the point guard position and Porter has the abilities to lead the Trojans in scoring one day. Replacing the cupboard with versatile weapons is a need for Mike Hopkins at Washington, and it's something that he has done a good job of this fall, as Bey has the abilities to evolve into the face of the program for the Huskies.
Analysis – The top SEC commit this fall is headed to Kentucky, as nothing has changed in Lexington. John Calipari has found his next super-quick and tough lead guard in Quickley, a five-star playmaker who has already drawn comparisons to John Wall. Mississippi State made quick work of flipping Perry to the SEC program, and the one-time Florida State commit is a tough and hard-nosed prospect who can be use in a variety of capacities. Will Wade has hit the ground running, as he shut down the state’s borders by nabbing top Louisiana senior Smart. Wade also went to the Northeast for an intimidating interior presence with five-star Reid. Florida, in need of replacing outgoing senior Chris Chiozza, found the ideal playmaker in elite distributor Nembhard. Ben Howland may have nabbed a major sleeper with Stewart, the potential replacement for Quinndary Weatherspoon. Stewart is a 6-foot-4 versatile wing.
BEST OF THE REST
C Carte’Are Gordon, St. Louis (No. 52)
SG Bryce Hamilton, UNLV (No. 75)
PF Jermaine Harris, Rhode Island (No. 77)
PF Filip Petrusev, Gonzaga (No. 78)
PG A.J. Green, Northern Iowa (No. 88)
Sleeper – P.J. Byrd, VCU (3-star)
Analysis – Kudos to Travis Ford for luring Gordon his way, as the 6-foot-8 center should only enhance St. Louis’ chances for Atlantic 10 supremacy in the coming years. Just like Ford, Marven Menzies is doing his best to put UNLV back onto the map, and the commitment of top-75 scoring guard Hamilton should only help his cause. Rhode Island boasts the top mid-major class in America this fall, led by four-star forward Harris. Gonzaga continues to claim versatile forwards who can shoot but also defend multiple positions, a calling card of Serbian big man Petrusev. Thanks to the employment of his father at Northern Iowa, Green could be the guy to get the Panthers back to the NCAA Tournament. Watch out for Byrd in the years ahead, as the Texas native is the ideal quick-twitch playmaker for the up-tempo system that VCU head coach Mike Rhoades will soon deploy on Broad Street.