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LIVE Signing Week blog: Four five-stars make picks Thursday

The early signing period for 2016-17 runs through Nov. 16. national analyst Eric Bossi and contributing analyst Dan McDonald have the latest news and notes.

Gary Trent
Gary Trent (Nike/Jon Lopez @NikeEYB)


P.J. Washington
P.J. Washington (USA Basketball)

Six prospects ranked in the top 60 of the Rivals150 are expected to announce their decisions today and four of them are five-star prospects.

Five-star center Nick Richards is up first with a 2 PM EST announcement at the Patrick School in New Jersey. Richards is down to Arizona, Kentucky and Syracuse. Will he get Kentucky on the board in 2017?

Up next, at 3pm. is four-star power forward Rayshaun Hammonds of Norcross (Ga.) High. Hammonds has taken visits to Georgia, Memphis and Miami. His visit to Athens was last weekend and the Bulldogs are the heavy favorites today. will be in attendance for this announcement.

At 6 PM EST, ESPN will air their signing week special and they have three five-star prospects lined up to announce. No. 7 Collin Sexton, No. 13 Gary Trent and No. 17 P.J. Washington will all make their picks. Sexton is expected to choose between the favorite Alabama and Kansas, the favorite for Trent is Duke with Michigan State and UCLA in the mix while Kentucky is considered the favorite for Washington over North Carolina and UNLV.

Finally, things will wrap up later in the evening when shooting guard John Petty makes his announcement. If Alabama is able to land Sexton earlier in the evening and finish things off with Petty like they are projected to do, Thursday would end up the most significant recruiting day the Crimson Tide have had in the history of


Frank Martin and South Carolina have landed commitment number three from the class of 2017 and this time he has an International flair.

Chile native Felipe Haase announced early Thursday that he will play his college basketball for Martin and the Gamecocks.

"I'm very excited to sign my letter of intent today with South Carolina," Haase said in a statement. "It's been a longtime dream of mine to play NCAA college basketball. I want to thank the universities of Purdue, Pittsburgh, and Missouri for their efforts in recruiting me."

After spending his junior season in California, Haase gained notoriety during the summer playing in the Fiba Americas 18U tournament with his home country. In the event he showed off the ability to stretch the floor with his shooting and though he's not a high flyer, he's a strong kid who doesn't mind rough and physical play in the lane and underneath the basket.

Haase is South Carolina's third commit joining athletic three-star power forward Ibrahim Doumbia and three-star seven-footer Jason Cudd.


To wrap up the day, we want to send a shoutout to Xavier for their handling of signing day on social media and their official website.

Sure, Chris Mack's program had plenty to work with considering that their class currently ranks No. 6. But, the creativity that they used in promoting their program and signees was as impressive as we have ever seen on National Signing Day in hoops.

Above you can see assistant coach Mike Pegues discuss four-star wing Naji Marshall complete with highlights (including some from Below, check out the animation they used to introduce players and the video they used to announce that another LOI had been received.

Bottom line, Xavier crushed it on signing day.

-- Bossi


Sitting just outside of the Rivals150, three-star big man Isaiah Stokes is being pushed to go ahead and make a decision during the early signing period.

Sources familiar with the recruitment of the Memphis native who attends Bradenton (Fla.) IMG have indicated to that the hope is that he will have a decision within the next few weeks.

Most likely, Stokes is going to decide between Florida, Iowa State and Tennessee -- where his older brother and former five-star prospect Jarnell Stokes played. Stokes has visited all three and as he head down what looks to be the final stretch of his recruitment, the Cyclones look to be a slight favorite.

-- Bossi


Three five-star prospects have official visits planned for this weekend that could go a long way towards changing the face of 2017 recruiting.

Big man Brandon McCoy is expected at Oregon, scorer Lonnie Walker at Syracuse and smooth sing Brian Bowen is set to hit Creighton.

A big man who is explosive around the rim, comfortable scoring from either block and a high level rebounder, McCoy has already visited Arizona and UNLV officially. He sees the Ducks this weekend and is then set to check out Michigan State next weekend. His recruitment has been one that has been very tough to read. He's from Chicago originally and Midwest roots have helped Michigan State, but he's been out West for a while now and has grown comfortable out there. Earlier this week we predicted Oregon on McCoy, but the more we look into the situation, the harder it looks to make any kind of confident call on which direction he may be leaning.

Provided Walker is back at full health and good to go for a visit -- he was under the weather during his Kentucky visit last weekend -- he will be using his fifth official. In addition to Kentucky, Walker has seen Arizona, Miami and Villanova. Early on, Villanova was the heavy favorite but more recently the behind the scenes talk has been centered around Arizona and Kentucky. That looks to be pretty well reasoned talk, but Syracuse has done pretty well with players from Pennsylvania so it would be foolish to rule out their chances of making a run.

Finally, Bowen has already seen Arizona and N.C. State officially and has also been to Michigan State unofficially on several occasions. Should he want to knock out a decision in the early period, he would likely have all of the information that he needs after his trip to Omaha this weekend. Currently, this one is handicapped as a race between Arizona and Michigan State.

Currently, Walker appears to be the most likely of this threesome to make an early decision but none of him, McCoy and Bowen have set decision dates.



Wednesday afternoon, three-star combo guard Taveion Hollingsworth ended what little suspense was left in his recruitment when he signed with Western Kentucky.

In most recruiting cycles, the athletic and creative scorer would be the jewel of a Hilltoppers recruiting class. That has changed drastically since the arrival of Rick Stansbury and with five-star center Mitchell Robinson and top 50 guard Josh Anderson already on board, it might be easy to overlook Hollingsworth.

Hilltopper fans certainly shouldn't and we aren't going to either. Hollingsworth is somebody that we could have easily seen joining a team in a high major conference had he chosen to wait things out through the Winter. We see him providing valuable minutes at the one and the two and turning into a big time upperclassmen before his time in Bowling Green is done.



Another high level prospect who has decided to bypass making a decision during the early signing period is four-star shooting guard Charles O'Bannon Jr.

"Definitely not," a source close to the situation told when asked if O'Bannon would sign early.

The 6-foot-6 scorer from Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman has taken visits to N.C. State, UCLA -- where his father Charles Sr. starred in the 90's -- USC and Washington. As of now there are no plans to set or take any additional visits. UNLV had recently been rumored to have made their way into the mix, but the Rebels are not likely to be a serious factor in the recruitment.

So if O'Bannon has taken all of his planned visits, why is he waiting? It's simple, he just hasn't been able to make up his mind. There is no set timetable for a decision but from the sounds of it we shouldn't expect an announcement from O'Bannon anytime soon.



Five-star point guard Collin Sexton is set to end his recruitment Thursday at six p.m. ET on ESPNU. The No. 7 overall prospect in the Rivals150, Sexton has seen his stock rise more than any prospect in the country over the past year to the point where the battle to land his services has turned fierce.

The explosive scorer took official visits to Alabama, Kansas, NC State and Oklahoma State, while Georgia and Georgia Tech have both had him on campus multiple times for unofficial visits. For the past month or so, most of the focus has been on the Crimson Tide and Jayhawks.

As he closes in on his announcement, sources tell that Sexton is indeed deciding between Alabama and Kansas. Popular opinion has been Alabama is the likely destination and we still have the Tide as the favorite to land Sexton. However, don't rule out Bill Self and the Jayhawks just yet as sources have indicated to Rivals that this one is going down to the wire and that Jayhawks are going hard to try and get Sexton to change his thinking late in the game.

-- McDonald


Clemson landed an intriguing piece on signing day in shooting guard Clyde Trapp who picked the Tigers over South Carolina, Georgia Tech, Charlotte and Rice.

A relatively under the radar product and late bloomer, Trapp became a prime target late because of his athleticism and the notion that he can one day play the point.

Trapp needs to get stronger and clean up a few technical things with his game. He joins a very solid class that includes four-star big man Aamir Simms and three-star power forward Malik William. Also, four-star shooting guard A.J. Oliver will be enrolling early and will play with the 2017 group as a redshirt freshman.



Three-star power forward Nicolas Claxton has set an announcement for Monday afternoon at his school.

The versatile, 6-foot-9 versatile forward took official visits to Baylor, Florida State, Georgia and NC State in the past couple months but the decision appears to coming down to Florida State and Georgia.

The Seminoles have a long term relationship between assistant coach Charlton Young and Claxton's father Charles going in their favor. The elder Young and Claxton were high school teammates.

Going in Georgia's favor is the fact Charles Claxton played at Georgia and was an All-SEC performer in the early 1990's. He's been to Georgia's campus dozens of times and is actually being recruited by another former Bulldog post player in assistant coach Jonas Hayes.



Four-star center Ikey Obiagu has used all of his official visits and the thought has always been that he would sign early.

However, after speaking with many sources familiar with the 6-foot-11 shot blocker from Decatur (Ga.) Greenforest Christian it is looking more and more likely that he will wait until the spring.

At this point, Obiagu has seen Baylor, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Long Beach State and Maryland officially while Auburn and NC State have also been involved.

While Obiagu could still end up signing early, we would bet that he waits and it currently appears that Auburn, Florida State and Baylor are emerging from the pack and if we had to set a favorite we would lean slightly in the direction of Scott Drew's Bears.



Since de-committing from Florida during the month of October, four-star point guard Shai Alexander has created quite a stir.

A point guard with great size and vision, there is a thought that he could be underrated nationally after being absent for much of the summer circuit because he made Canada's senior national team.

The national schedule his team is playing this winter will take care of any exposure worries, and soon enough Alexander will have no worries about his recruitment.

Alexander is down to Florida, Kentucky, Syracuse, Texas and UNLV but the signs are starting to point in the direction of Kentucky. Alexander visited Lexington over the weekend -- he also took a recent official visit to UNLV -- and behind-the-scenes talk has been the John Calipari and his staff opened up some distance between themselves an the field.

Texas may get an official visit this weekend, but it is not locked in.



Five-star forward Billy Preston will not be signing his letter of intent on signing day and most likely won't be doing so at any point this week.

However, the versatile forward's mother Nicole Player told that the plan is still for Preston to make a decision and pick from Indiana, Kansas, Syracuse and USC before the end of the signing period.

This weekend, Preston and his Mouth of Wilson (Va.) Oak Hill teammates will be in North Carolina for the Phenom Hoops event. Preston's family will also be on hand and it's likely that the topic of making a decision will be discussed.

As it stands, it is looking like a decision will come towards the end of the early signing period which ends on Nov. 16.

-- Bossi


Garrison Brooks became the first Rivals150 member to announce his decision during the early signing period.

The four-star big man announced at his school that he will sign with Mississippi State.

"It was the playing style and how comfortable I am with the staff," Brooks told

A big part of the reason he's so comfortable with the Mississippi State staff is that his father, George Brooks, is an assistant coach for the Bulldogs. Brooks did not make an official visit to Starkville, but has been to the campus and has met with Ben Howland and the staff at his school.

The Alabama native chose the Buldogs after cutting his list down to a list of five that included Auburn, Georgia, LSU, Mississippi State and North Carolina. He joins four-star guard Nick Weatherspoon and three-star power forward Keyshawn Feazell in Mississippi State's 2017 class.



Late Tuesday night, Illinois committed five-star center Jeremiah Tilmon confirmed a report by Bret Beherns of WCIA Television in Champaign, Ill. that he will not be signing early.

"I won't sign tomorrow," Tilmon told "I'm just waiting for a later period to do it."

A center who moved back to his home school of East Saint Louis (Ill.) High for his senior year after time at La Porte (Ind.) La Lumiere, committed to Illinois in July.

Earlier this fall, there were rumors that Tilmon's commitment could be shaky but sources close to him all confirmed that things were fine.

Though Tilmon hasn't de-committed, it is clear that his commitment could be shaky and him backing away from the Illini would be a huge hit to their 2017 recruiting class that currently ranks No. 8 overall.



Five-star point guard Trae Young has always maintained that he will likely wait until after the early signing period to make a decision.

He would like to see the teams he's considering -- Kansas, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech -- play in the early part of the season and as the early signing period starts, that's still the plan.

"I’m probably going to end up signing late and waiting and seeing these teams play," Young said. "I was debating about going ahead and getting it over with and I kind of felt like I knew where I wanted to go. Me and my family continued to talk it out and we decided that we probably want to wait.”

At USA Basketball in October, Young detailed his official visits to Oklahoma and Texas Tech. Since then he has seen Kansas, Kentucky and Oklahoma State and he recapped those visits.

First was Kentucky where Young went for their Big Blue Madness event.

"Kentucky was great. They wanted me to come a day earlier, because of everybody who would be coming in they wanted to spend a full day alone with me and my family and that really meant a lot and stood out," said Young.

"I got to spend a lot of time with De'Aaron Fox and got too see a little bit of how they do things at UK from a players perspective. I've known him since the 3rd grade so I was very comfortable with asking him questions and things like that. So, my parents and I really enjoyed that visit."

When Young visited Kansas, there was no major event going on which was fine with him.

"No, it made no difference," said Young about it being a "regular" weekend. "It may actually have been better, because of how much time I got to spend with Coach (Bill) Self, the players like Malik Newman and Devonte Graham who I might be playing with next year. I've already been and experienced a Game in Phog, I've already been to Late Night twice. So I think going on a weekend where I was alone, and got to watch practice and things like that, the little details, made the weekend so great.

"I think I fit very well in Coach Self's system," Young said. "I know I'll be playing with another guard in the back court, but the past few championships have been won with two smaller guards in the backcourt, so I don't see that as a problem. I'll be coming in with the ball in my hands from Day 1. And one thing that is big is its fan base. I can see myself feeding off that crazy crowd, and bringing the roof down on a nightly basis. I loved the visit."

Finally, Young wrapped up his visits with a trip to Oklahoma State, where new coach Brad Underwood hasn't been able to recruit him for as long as the other coaches.

"Coach Underwood has made it a priority from the second day he got the job to build a strong relationship with me and my family," said Young. "We have a really good relationship. I really believe Coach Underwood is going to make Oklahoma State like the way it used to be with sellout games and one of the craziest arenas and hardest places to play in the county.

"He's a winner and that really sticks out to me. The way they play fits my game perfect. Transition, pick-and-roll offense and a lot of their stuff comes straight from league. So that's always a great thing to know when that's the ultimate goal out of all of this. I would definitely give OSU a 10 out of 10 on the visit."



Things haven't been totally quiet for five-star forward Jarred Vanderbilt this fall.

He's recovered from a broken foot that cost him his summer and he's knocked out some visits. Vanderbilt has checked out Houston and TCU unofficially while taking official visits to Kentucky and North Carolina.

Arizona, Oregon and Kansas are other schools that have been mentioned as involved but for now, Vanderbilt doesn't have any set visits. Though he could make a decision, Vanderbilt told earlier this week that there was a "slight" chance that he could sign early but that it wasn't likely.