The Deep Three: Who's cruisin', dreamin', hurtin' after September?
Did you miss something last month in the sport of college basketball and the recruiting world? The Deep Three has you covered as Oklahoma and Louisville won September, Duke sure didn’t, and North Carolina and Texas could reign supreme in October.
Louisville came through in a major way in September by landing commitments from Jae'lyn Withers, Samuell Williamson, David Johnson and Quinn Slazinski. The Cardinals are looking to add shot-makers and scorers in the 2019 class, and those are areas where the program's four newest pledges excel. They’re also versatile, multi-positional ballplayers that should work well under Chris Mack’s system.
The Sooners landed two Rivals150 commitments and two more from the junior college ranks in September, replenishing their cupboard with four competitive and tough-minded prospects. Victor Iwuakor’s commitment last month was vital, as he is an elite rim presence that changes shots, gobbles balls up on the glass and finishes with ferocity. Jalen Hill, another four-star prospect, has the chance to cultivate his talents in Norman and round out his game as a shooter, finisher and do-it-all producer. Toss in high-upside junior college big man Corbin Merritt and shot making wing Alondes Williams and Oklahoma basketball enters October in a good situation.
September was a good month for Sean Miller on the recruiting trail. It started with the commitment of top backcourt target Nico Mannion, who should be an immediate contributor and a potential face of the program. The Wildcats added another pledge just a few days later in Christian Koloko. There is still more work to be done in the desert this fall but September was critical for Arizona.
Brutal. We are not accustomed to seeing Mike Krzyzewski fail to close things out on the recruiting trail, but I guess that there is always a first for everything. The Blue Devils were seen as the favorites for Bryan Antoine in the spring, but since then, the dynamics of the recruitment of the five-star guard changed and the Jersey product decided to select Villanova over Duke. Just a week later, the Blue Devils came up short in recruitment of Josiah James, who chose Tennessee. What makes matters even worse is that Duke enters the season with a fairly short backcourt rotation and will likely lose R.J. Barrett and Cameron Reddish after the upcoming season. That makes Wendell Moore that much more of a must-get recruit for the Blue Devils.
2019 NEEDY TEAMS
Things aren't looking too bright for programs that have not struck in the 2019 class or still need three or four more heading into October. Virginia Tech, Duke, Florida State, Texas Tech, Georgia Tech, Miami, Notre Dame, Pitt, Seton Hall, St. John’s, Illinois, Mississippi State, Colorado, Oregon and Washington all enter October without a single 2019 commitment. Seeing that this current class of senior prospects is one of the worst that the industry has seen in the past several years, the amount of instant impact talent available has begun to seriously dwindle as 82 members of the Rivals150 have already come off the board.
KIM, SWEENEY AND THE FBI INVESTIGATION
A year ago, Joon Kim, the acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced charges of corruption and fraud stemming from an investigation into the world of college basketball. Bill Sweeney, an assistant director with the FBI’s New York field office, said, “Today’s arrests should serve as a warning to others choosing to conduct business this way in the world of college athletics,” he stated. “We have your playbook.”
Ten individuals involved within the industry were arrested and the thought at the time that many more arrests were on the way. A year later, for all the scare tactics used and doomsday prophecies shared, not much else has changed in the sport. Maybe taxpayers' money would have been better spent on something a little important than dealings within the sport of college basketball.
The Longhorns have just one 2019 commit so far, Rivals150 wing Donovan Williams, but they are in position to add more in the month of October. Texas has done a great job of working its way into contention for some of the best throughout the land.
One of those is Will Baker, a five-star that lives less than a 20-minute drive from the Austin campus. Baker is expected to make a decision in the coming weeks, and the Longhorns' biggest competition at this point seems to be UCLA.
Texas is also in a good spot with top-80 forward Kai Jones but will have to fend off Baylor and Florida State. Shaka Smart’s bunch remains in pursuit of Rivals150 seniors Omar Payne, Jaden McDaniels, Malik Hall and Patrick Williams but they have the chance to make a giant jump in the rankings by November thanks to the pledges of Baker and Jones by the end of the month.
North Carolina has the opportunity to enter the season with a ton of momentum thanks to the work it has done on the recruiting trail. While the Tar Heels have already celebrated the commitments of Jeremiah Francis and Armando Bacot, more good news could be on the way.
North Carolina hosted five-star guard Josh Green, two weeks ago and are primarily jostling with Arizona for his commitment. His school teammate, Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, is also winding down his recruitment and is expected to choose between North Carolina and Kansas. The Tar Heels could strike out on the duo, but it's also very possible that they secure both commitments, giving the program three five-star commitments from IMG Academy.
For as brutal as September was for Duke as it missed on two of its top backcourt targets and seems to be losing ground with Isaiah Stewart and Vernon Carey, the Blue Devils are due to come up with some wins on the recruiting trail. One of those is likely to be Wendell Moore. The five-star wing has been a heavily coveted prospect for the past few years and is trending toward a commitment in the coming weeks. Wake Forest, North Carolina and NC State are putting up a good fight but the Blue Devils should strike here.
The same can be said for Rivals150 guard Anthony Harris, an elite defender that visited Duke over the weekend. Boogie Ellis, a top-50 guard, is another prospect that is within the Blue Devils' grasp. By the time November strikes, Harris and Moore could be in the fold, allowing Duke to focus even more on Stewart and Carey.