I've Got Five On It: Non-blueblood classes to watch
At Rivals, we dedicate a lot of keystrokes on mega-classes assembled by programs like Kentucky and Duke. North Carolina and Kansas don’t hurt for coverage, either. This week in I Got Five On It, we freeze out the sport’s most famous recruiting juggernauts with a look at five non-blueblood classes to watch between now and signing day. Arkansas could be building toward a second-straight star-studded class, while things are also falling into place for Michigan State, Iowa State and Arizona.
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Already committed: Jeremy Fears Jr.
Where things stand: Top-100 guard Jeremy Fears Jr., who committed to the Spartans back in January, could move up a few spots in the next update but it’s who may join him in this class that should have fans most excited. The Spartans are the leader for five-star Xavier Booker, who is in the thick of the discussion for the top spot in the Rivals150.
Tom Izzo and company also like where they stand in relation to top-100 wing Devin Royal. who Izzo spent time watching at Peach Jam earlier this month. Michigan State is also in play for four-star Coen Carr, who will visit East Lansing on July 30.
Where things stand: The Cyclones are coming off a Sweet 16 appearance and just landed their first five-star since 2017 in the form of Omaha Biliew, who chose ISU over a host of major offers including ones from Kansas and Illinois. Second-year coach T.J. Otzelberger has three top-100 prospects in the fold, as Biliew joins forward Milan Momcilovic (No. 27) and wing Jelani Hamilton (No. 86).
The class is as important as it is impressive, as the momentum coming off of Otzelberger’s impressive debut season continues to build. Suddenly, the fact that the Cyclones made just one NCAA in the previous regime's final four years seems like ancient history. Otzelberger has proven able to win when his roster seems light on top-flight talent and is now showing he’s willing to do what it takes to recruit at a high level.
Already committed: K.J. Lewis
Where things stand: One of the Wildcats’ marquee prospects, Kylan Boswell, has reclassified to 2022 but the 2023 class outlook remains bright. Already in the fold is four-star guard KJ Lewis, who has been playing much better basketball than he did at the start of the summer and brings a dynamic on-ball scoring threat to the table.
There’s also a bigger shoe that may drop soon, as the Wildcats are one of the favorites to land five-star wing KJ Evans, who comes equipped with one of the highest ceilings in the 2023 class. Like Otzelberger at Iowa State, Arizona head coach Tommy Lloyd used an impressive first season to make a statement about the direction of the program and is now reaping the recruiting rewards of his on-court success.
UofA is also in play for top-75 prospect Cody Williams, who is in line for a bump into the top 50, as well as former Oregon commit Mookie Cook, a five-star forward that would raise the profile of this class dramatically. Cook is expected to finalize a visit to Tucson in the coming weeks.
Already committed: Layden Blocker
Where things stand: The Razorbacks have just one prospect in the fold. And while he is an absolutely vital one – top-35 point guard Layden Blocker – it’s the plethora of big names with which they remain involved that earns them a mention here.
Arkansas is among the favorites to land a pair of five-star prospects in center Baye Fall and wing Ron Holland. Landing one or both would make yet another statement about where head coach Eric Musselman stands among the elite recruiters in the sport. Another highly ranked class coming on the back of last year’s historic haul would only solidify the avalanche of momentum the program has built on the trail and on the court.
Already committed: Dusty Stromer
Where things stand: Gonzaga commit Dusty Stromer has had an impressive grassroots season and is ranked inside the top 35 because of it. The Bulldogs look like the favorite to add four-star Kaden Cooper, who has also had a breakout year for Team Trae Young on the adidas 3SSB circuit and has attracted offers from all sorts of high-major programs including Kansas, which seems to trail the Zags in the race to land his pledge.
The Bulldogs are also in the mix for elite big man Xavier Booker, though they may trail Michigan State a bit at this point. Should Gonzaga pull off that upset, however, the projection of Mark Few’s 2023 class could go from “solid” to “elite.”