Basketball Recruiting - I've Got Five On It: Biggest questions regarding 2023 class
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I've Got Five On It: Biggest questions regarding 2023 class

The class of 2023 is knee deep in its final tour around the summer circuit. The group continues to jostle for rankings positions and offers as prospects fly off the board via verbal commitment. To this point, three of the top five and six of the top 15 players in the country have made their college decisions, which leaves plenty of intrigue and mystery in this class.

Today in I've Got Five On It, Rivals.com recruiting director Rob Cassidy explores five of the most interesting questions related to the class of 2023.

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PLAYER UPDATES: Jaylen Curry | Daniel Freitag

2022 Rankings: Rivals150 | Team | Position

2023 Rankings: Rivals150

2024 Rankings: Top 40

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1. WHO'S NO. 1? 

GG Jackson
GG Jackson (Nick Lucero/Rivals.com)

The race for the top spot in the 2023 rankings has been an interesting one, to say the least. Nobody has been able to stake a claim to the top spot with much conviction, so the debate continues both nationally and internally here at Rivals.com. The two major players in these discussions are North Carolina commit and current No. 1 GG Jackson and uncommitted standout DJ Wagner, who seems caught in a recruiting tug of war between rivals Kentucky and Louisville.

The debate is familiar. In fact the talking points are classic recruiting debates. Jackson seems to have the higher upside based on his length, frame and athleticism, but Wagner has been the more consistently productive player in recent months.

Peripheral options such as Justin Edwards, McKenzie Mgbako and even Xavier Booker are also lying in wait and could use the training calendar year to get within striking distance of the top spot. For now, however, the race seems to have two leaders locked stride for stride.

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2.  WHO WILL WIN THE DJ WAGNER SWEEPSTAKES?

Speaking of Wagner, nobody’s recruitment has been more captivating as of late. Wagner was once seen as a heavy Kentucky lean because of the longstanding relationship between his father and UK head coach John Calipari, for whom Wagner Sr. played at Memphis. But Wagner Jr., is suddenly no sure thing for the Wildcats.

Louisville began to creep into the picture when new head coach Kenny Payne took the reins and became even more of a serious threat when Payne added former Duke assistant coach Nolan Smith to his staff.

Then, May 24 happened.

On the 24th, word got out that the Cardinals had hired Wagner’s grandfather, Milt Wagner, as the school’s director of player development and alumni relations. A member of Louisville’s 1986 NCAA championship team, Milt Wagner has history with the program and would have likely been a fit for the position regardless of his relationship with the school’s most important recruiting target. But it’s difficult to believe this move wasn’t a strategic one when it comes to the pursuit of No.3-ranked prospect in 2023.

Whatever the case, Payne’s Cardinals suddenly feel like the favorite here, and it is starting to seem as though a decision could be coming sooner rather than later.

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3. WHAT’S THE DEAL WITH BRONNY JAMES?

For being the most famous and discussed basketball recruit on the planet, little is known about where Bronny James’ college recruitment stands. James does very few interviews and says less than Charlie Chaplin on the rare occasion that he does speak to the press.

Tennessee, Texas, Ohio State and Kansas all seem to be possible landing spots for LeBron James’ son based on whispers, but visit plans and frontrunners are being played close to the vest by the James camp. The secrecy has given way to an interesting dichotomy, as the most talked about prospect in the class is somehow also the most mysterious. The NBA G-League also looms large in James’ recruitment, but it’s starting to seem as though the college route is very much in play.

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4. WHO IS THE TOP DOG AT POINT GUARD?

Five-star point guard Robert Dillingham has held down the top spot at point guard since the original Rivals150 was released, but his standing as the undisputed alpha now seems more threatened than ever. Georgia-based standout Isaiah Collier has come on strong in recent months and has a case to seize top billing.

Dillingham’s pace, athleticism and jumper make the case for his keeping hold of the top spot, but Collier’s superior size helps the case for his long-term upside, as does the fact that he’s spent the spring posting eye-popping assist totals while limiting turnovers. The conversation surrounding the two talented floor generals has become a which-flavor-do-you-prefer debate, and it’s a conversation that likely won’t be totally resolved until the final rankings come out next year.

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5. CAN ARIZONA STEAL KJ EVANS FROM OREGON?

One of the things that makes recruiting interesting to follow is how a single offer can shake up what once seemed to be a sure thing. That’s exactly what we have in the case of KJ Evans, a five-star wing who seemed destined for Oregon before Arizona entered the fray.

The Wildcats have prioritized Evans since watching him live and offering him a scholarship early this spring. Arizona head coach Tommy Lloyd has a strong relationship with Evans’ grassroots coaches at Team Durant, and Lloyd has a history recruiting skilled big men such as Chet Holmgren, whom he lured to Gonzaga before leaving Spokane for his current post.

The situation has created some nervous moments in Eugene, as the Evans sweepstakes will remain full of intrigue until Evans announces his destination.

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