BLOG: Early signing period begins
The early period for high school basketball players to sign with colleges started Wednesday and runs through Nov. 15. Rivals.com national analysts Eric Bossi, Corey Evans and contributing analyst Dan McDonald have the latest news and notes.
9:41 PM: DECISION IS SET FOR FIVE-STAR KELDON JOHNSON
It's seemed as if five-star wing Keldon Johnson has been on the verge of making a decision for nearly a month now.
Finally, the high scoring wing is ready to decide. Coaches from the Boo Williams Summer League program that Johnson has played with the last few years confirmed to Rivals.com that he'll choose from among Kentucky, Maryland, N.C. State and Texas on Saturday night at six o'clock eastern.
For much of his recruitment, Texas was seen as the leader. However, over the past few weeks his recruitment has been all over the map but as he nears his decision John Calipari and the Wildcats look as if they may have moved to the front.
9:24 PM: BRYCE WILLS CONSIDERING FOUR FOR 2018
Four-star guard Bryce Wills had contemplated doing a year of prep school and becoming a member of the 2019 class, but recently he decided to stay in the 2018 class.
Stanford will get the first crack at hosting Wills on an official visit, and that will take place next weekend after the early signing period ends. Right now, that's the only visit he has set in stone.
Each of the other three schools will get an official visit as well. UConn and Villanova each had Wills on campus in recent months for unofficial visits. Since he won't be finished with his official visits in time, Wills won't be making a decision during the early signing period.
Though he plans to make visits, Wills doesn't really have a time frame in mind for when they will happen or when he'll aim to make his decision by. Some talk behind the scenes that Stanford is in a good spot in his recruitment as he seems to value the education he would get in Palo Alto.
7:01 PM: BRANDON WILLIAMS WILL SIGN WITH ARIZONA
The four-star senior now plans to sign with Sean Miller's crew on Friday. But, there will be a twist.
"He's going to sign a scholarship agreement instead of the National Letter of Intent," Williams' father Chris Wright told Rivals.com. "He really wants to play for Sean Miller and by signing that Arizona is bound to him and if something happens he doesn't have to worry about getting out of his letter."
In fact, it was actually Miller himself who proposed the idea of signing scholarship papers to Williams. Considering all that Arizona has dealt with in the wake of former assistant coach Emmanuel "Book" Richardson's arrest in the federal investigation into college corruption, getting Williams to sign is a big win for the Wildcats.
6:22 PM: TYGER CAMPBELL UNSET ON TIMETABLE FOR SIGNING
There remains some uncertainty surrounding Rivals150 guard Tyger Campbell's signing plays. The former DePaul commitment, who reopened his recruitment in September, will officially visit the program this weekend.
While many had believed that DePaul was no longer under consideration, the scheduling of an official visit has clarified things some. Thanks to the hiring of his former high school coach, Shane Heirman, DePaul was originally able to land his commitment. Campbell has been to campus numerous times, of which has been aided by the fact that La Lumiere is located less than a two hour drive from the university.
Prior to the scheduling of his official visit to DePaul, Purdue was thought of as the likely landing spot for him. The Boilermakers, who will lose three year starting point guard PJ Thompson to graduation after this season, hosted Campbell for his first official visit following his decommitment last month.
A commitment in the coming days remains up for debate, sources told Rivals. Campbell is one of the top facilitators in America as he would instantly stabilize either team’s backcourt next year. A better idea of whether a signing will take place should occur following his visit to DePaul after this weekend.
5:27 PM: FIVE-STAR GRIMES WANTS TO SIGN EARLY
If things go as planned, five-star combo guard Quentin Grimes will end up deciding during the early period.
The product of Houston who is down to Kansas, Kentucky, Marquette and Texas has been on campus with each of his finalists and met with coaches from each program on several occasions. Now, it's a matter of making his pick.
Basically, it's coming down to weighing relationships with coaches against roles he would play at different programs and figuring out what matters most to him. Once Grimes figures that out, he should be able to come to a decision his summer coach Rhossi Carron of Basketball University told Rivals.com.
“I think he’s built such a great bond with all of the coaches that it’s tough," Carron told Rivals.com. "He has to try and separate the love for a coach and his love for a school and figuring out what is best for hm.
“He has to figure out what type of role he wants to have and that will be a big part of it.”
3:34 PM: WICHITA STATE ON THE VERGE OF STRONG CLASS
After mopping up in the Missouri Valley for the past few years, Gregg Marshall and Wichita State are off to the American Athletic Conference. Given their current roster, strong recruiting, coaching and player development the Shockers figure to keep winning lots of games.
Wednesday night, the Shockers could complete a very strong class when four-star point guard Alex Lomax reveals his decision. A tough-as-nails floor general who is a natural leader and winner, Lomax tweeted that he will decide between eight and nine PM central. Currently, Wichita is the favorite to land his services.
If he does as expected, Lomax will join a group that already has tremendous size in prep school big men Morris Udeze and Isaiah Chandler along with junior college big man Jaime Echenique. The class is rounded out by wings Erik Stevenson and Chance Moore. Stevenson is a dangerous jump shooting wing from Washington while Moore is an athletic slasher who can get to the cup and has big upside as a scorer who can create on his own.
2:34 PM: MYSTERY REMAINS SURROUNDING ZION WILLIAMSON
Where do things stand with Zion Williamson? No one really knows. What we do we know is that he has taken four official visits to date, to Kentucky, Kansas, Duke and North Carolina. Up until two weeks ago, many believed that UNC wasn’t much of a threat, which was until he took an official visit to Chapel Hill. The mystery surrounding the five-star forward remains as another visit could be in the works.
Word began to spread on Tuesday that Williamson will take his fifth and final official visit to Clemson this weekend. Confirming the reports has been difficult as those close with both the program and the prospect told Rivals that an affirmative date is not official. While Brad Brownell and his staff have exhausted a ton of attention and time in the recruitment of Williamson, it would not be a surprise to see Williamson take an official visit to the program despite his many unofficial trips that he has made in the past.
Outside of the five in the mix, South Carolina is still involved. Williamson has not set a commitment date or even identified whether he will sign during the early signing period or wait until the spring. Better yet, the programs recruiting Williamson do not have a great feel for where he might be leaning.
Kansas was the perceived favorite in August; Duke and Clemson made up a ton of ground in September; North Carolina made its biggest pitch two weeks ago – all of which makes the next few days a sprint for the blueblood programs and local schools involved.
1:20 PM: WHAT'S THE LATEST WITH SIMISOLA SHITTU?
As it turns out, five-star forward Simisola Shittu will not visit North Carolina this weekend. More than likely, it's looking like he won't ever visit the Tar Heels and that Roy Williams and his staff are pretty much out of the hunt.
Given that the Canadian import is down to the Heels and Vanderbilt, things are starting to look awfully good for the Commodores.
Should Vanderbilt land a commitment from five-star point guard Darius Garland -- who is updated down below in this blog -- sometime in the next few days, their chances with Shittu could be significantly enhanced. Perhaps even enough that Shittu could be convinced to go ahead and commit early rather than waiting until sometime during the winter as currently planned.
Now, if Garland goes elsewhere, things could get interesting for Shittu and it wouldn't be a surprise to see him look to set up one more visit.
This is certainly one to keep a close eye on.
11:09 AM: PURDUE & NOTRE DAME MAKE 2018 CLASS OFFICIAL
The Boilermakers, entering the college basketball season with the personnel to once against fight for a Big Ten championship and further success in March, will have some shoes to fill with the upcoming departures of PJ Thompson, Dakota Mathias, Vince Edwards and Isaac Haas. Matt Painter’s staff did quality work leading up to today as they have officially added Rivals150 prospects Eric Hunter and Trevion Williams to next year’s roster, along with rim protector Emmanuel Dowuona. They remain in need of a point guard this fall and while there is questions about whether he will sign this week or in the spring, Rivals150 guard Tyger Campbell, who will visit DePaul this weekend, is their final priority target on their board.
Notre Dame, one of the most consistent programs in not just the ACC but in all of college basketball, currently sits with a top-15 recruiting class. Each member is now signed for the Irish, a group consisting of shot makers, tough guards and versatile offensive pieces that should excel in South Bend. Out will go Martinas Geben, Austin Torres, Bonzie Colson and Matt Farrell after this season and in will come Rivals150 seniors Robby Carmody, Nate Laszewski, Dane Goodwin and Prentiss Hubb.
10:51 AM: BRYAN PENN-JOHNSON WILL WAIT UNTIL THE SPRING
Fans of UCLA, Washington and DePaul will have to wait as the recruitment of Bryan Penn-Johnson is likely to bleed into the winter months. A 7-foot center and one of the top upside frontcourt prospects in the 2018 class, sources have told Rivals that he will not sign during the first signing period this week.
A relative unknown prior to his senior summer, Penn-Johnson quickly became a heavily recruited and prioritized prospect for a number of west coast powers and a handful of others. No final list has been created, though sources have told Rivals that the three primary schools in the mix are UCLA, Washington and DePaul.
Penn-Johnson has already visited each school officially. UCLA, on Tuesday evening, landed the commitment of Kenneth Nwuba, though they remain in the market for one more big man prospect this fall, as they are in the mix for five-stars Moses Brown and Jordan Brown. Washington has already put together a versatile four-man class, a group that is being catered to the talents of the 7-footer, that is if he were to join the program. DePaul, in need of further frontcourt firepower, has remained the major dark horse throughout.
Placing bets as to where Penn-Johnson might land, DePaul and Washington may sit in a great spot. UCLA may be ruled out if either Brown were to commit before Penn-Johnson would have the chance. His schedule could change but at the moment, a signing will take place in the spring, not this week.
10:19 AM: ALABAMA LANDS LOCAL THREE STAR SHOOTING GUARD
We have our first (mild) surprise of National Signing Day thanks to three-star shooting guard Diante Wood.
During a press conference at his high school, the senior announced that he would stay home to play for Alabama. Headed into the announcement, South Florida had been considered a slight leader for his services.
The Crimson Tide needed a shooting guard in this cycle just in case freshman John Petty decides to leave for the NBA and Wood has size and scoring ability that could help in a pinch. It also gives them insurance in case another target four-star Robert Woodard elects to go elsewhere.
Wood is Avery Johnson's second recruit in the class of 2018 and joins four-star point guard Jared Butler in Bama's early class.
9 AM: FOUR-STAR BRANDON WILLIAMS WILL NOT SIGN WITH ARIZONA
Earlier this fall, the Wildcats were caught up in the federal investigation into college corruption when assistant coach Emmanuel "Book" Richardson was arrested for allegedly accepting bribes.
Though Williams will not sign early, his father told Rivals.com that he remains firmly committed to Arizona and is confident in the future of the program and head coach Sean Miller.
"We are 100-percent Arizona," said Wright. "Not entertaining any other offers, actually haven't even had contact with any other program. As long as Coach Miller is there, Brandon will be there. If there is no closure by spring, we feel all will be well moving forward."
Tuesday night, a report from Eric Sondheimer of the L.A. Times indicated that Williams believed that five-star power forward Shareef O'Neal would wait to sign with the Wildcats as well. Rivals.com has not been able to verify that with O'Neal as of this time.
The Wildcats' 2018 class currently ranks No. 21 overall.
8:44 AM: NEWS WASN'T ALL BAD FOR UCLA ON TUESDAY AS IT ADD KENNETH NWUBA
The news wasn't all bad for UCLA on Tuesday. Shortly after news broke that freshmen LiAngelo Ball, Jalen Hill and Cody Riley had been arrested for a shoplifting incident at a Louis Vuitton store during the team's trip to China for a game with Georgia Tech, the Bruins landed a commitment from Kenneth Nwuba.
A three-star prospect who ranks on the fringe of the 2018 Rivals150, Nwuba is a high-level athlete who has the body of a pro basketball player. He runs well, can play with physicality and will be ready for the rigors of the Pac-12 from a physical standpoint.
8:12 AM: GONZAGA LANDS LATE COMMITMENT FROM GREG FOSTER JR.
The Gonzaga Bulldogs struck late on the eve of National Signing Day when they landed a commitment from combo guard Greg Foster Jr., whose father Greg played in the NBA and is an assistant coach for the Milwaukee Bucks.
Blessed with good size and a nice base of fundamental skills, Foster has always been an intriguing prospect but struggled with the consistency of his shot in the past. Since arriving in Vegas, though, Foster has been playing to rave reviews and expectations are that he has a big senior season.
Foster joins skilled four-star big man Filip Petrusev in Gonzaga's 2018 class.
6:30 AM: FIVE-STAR PG GARLAND NEARING DECISION
Five-star point guard Darius Garland isn't likely to sign on the first day of the early signing period, but it won't be long before he chooses between his finalists of Indiana, Kentucky, UCLA and Vanderbilt.
Garland's father Winston told Rivals.com that his son is very close to a decision and that he will decide before the end of the early signing period.
“We want to do it ASAP," Garland's father told Rivals.com. "Hopefully towards the end of this week or early next week.
“His mom and I and his brother we’ve been talking about it and what he’s got left are some great choices. We want him to lead with his heart and also you know the business aspect is a huge part of it. We just want him to be sure."
Speculation has been that Indiana and Vanderbilt have emerged from the pack. The elder Garland didn't hint at any leaders but did confirm that the family has had lots of discussion and that he thinks Darius is pretty focused in on one program over the others and should be ready to announce sooner than later.
“I’m sure he’s got one at the top of his list and that is in his heart," said Garland. "We had a really good sit down Friday night where we weighed out the pros and cons of each. It was our second time doing it.
“He’s enjoyed it all and I’m sure he’s ready to make his decision soon. I think he knew a few weeks ago where his heart was and now it’s just the formality of finalizing the decision and announcing.”
6:20 AM: TOP 50 POINT GUARD WILL RICHARDSON STILL UNDECIDED
However, as the signing period begins it looks like Richardson is battling with some serious indecision.
Georgia and Oregon look like they have emerged as the teams to beat, but Richardson could elect to wait things out and see who else wants to get involved during winter. As of now we would put the chances of him signing early at 50/50.
6:01 AM: TOP 40 KHAVON MOORE WILL WAIT UNTIL THE SPRING
One prospect who won't be signing this week is versatile wing Khavon Moore.
The 6-foot-8 senior from Georgia took an official visit to Florida during the Fall but isn't ready to make a decision and will evaluate his options throughout the winter.
Moore did see Georgia unofficially for a recent practice and the Bulldogs are heavily in the mix. Look for Alabama to get an official visit at some point during the season while others that are involved heavily include Texas A&M, Texas Tech and Oklahoma.