basketball Edit

Top 10 stories in the world of hoops in 2017

It has been a whirlwind year on the recruiting trail, and as we usher out 2017 and bring in 2018 there is not a better time to reassess all that we saw during the year that was. From John Calipari and Coach K remaining dons of the recruiting world, to the FBI investigation that severely stung the industry as a whole, here are the top 10 stories from 2017.

MORE: 2017 Rivals Team Rankings | Rivals150

Marvin Bagley III
Marvin Bagley III (AP Images)

1. Sept. 26, 2017 

The day will continue to ring throughout every corner of the basketball industry. And while there is a lot to be done before we get a better understanding of what is to come of it, the FBI investigation that saw 10 people arrested opened many eyes inside and outside of the college basketball world. No one believed coaches, runners or financial advisers could go to jail for such actions, but the idea of paying to get players has gone from frowned upon to a criminal offense. Questions remain at Arizona, Oklahoma State, USC and Auburn, along with several other programs in the FBI’s web of investigation, as the veil of innocence seems to have been removed from the public’s eye as to what really goes on within the business for some programs.

2. RICK PITINO IS GONE 

Rick Pitino
Rick Pitino (AP Images)

Fresh off of the FBI investigation that saw several college coaches, financial advisers and shoe brand representatives arrested, things moved quickly in the ouster of the Louisville head coach. It's been since 1971 that Rick Pitino could not be found on a college basketball or NBA court, either coaching or playing in some capacity. However, it was on Oct. 16, 2017 that the ULAA board voted to fire Pitino for cause. The Cards entered the college basketball season with high hopes of making a run to San Antonio for Pitino’s eighth Final Four appearance. Instead, interim head coach David Padgett is just trying to scrape the remains and make sure his team is wearing white jerseys during the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

3. MICHAEL PORTER JR. SWITCHES HIS STRIPES

Michael Porter Jr.
Michael Porter Jr. (AP Images)

Until April, Washington was set to enroll what could turn out to be the second straight first overall pick in the upcoming year’s NBA Draft. Instead, Cuonzo Martin pulled a power move by changing jobs and taking over the Missouri head men’s basketball gig. He also immediately offered Washington assistant coach, Michael Porter Sr., a job on staff. By doing so, Porter Sr.’s eldest son, Michael Porter Jr., backed off his signing to Washington and quickly pledged his allegiances to Mizzou. Since then, Porter Jr.’s younger brother, Jontay Porter, enrolled a year early and a slew of other recruiting wins were celebrated. Despite suffering a back injury that could end his season just two minutes into the year, the perception of Missouri basketball has greatly changed, thanks to Martin’s power move and Porter Jr.’s swift commitment.

4. MARVIN BAGLEY III RECLASSIFIES

Marvin Bagley III
Marvin Bagley III (AP Images)

The face of the 2017-2018 college basketball season changed dramatically, thanks to the announcement of Marvin Bagley III’s commitment and decision to forgo his senior year of high school. On Aug. 14, Duke landed one of the more unique big men Coach K has ever landed and in doing so, added an alpha-dog of a producer and Top 5 contender for the national player of the year. Bagley III, perceived as one of the top talents from the high school ranks from the past five years, was the dominant No. 1 from the 2018 class. Duke now boasts a two-headed monster in the frontcourt, with the Arizona native and Wendell Carter giving Coach K a chance at another national title.

5. TRAE YOUNG STAYS HOME

Trae Young
Trae Young (AP Images)

We fortunately ranked Trae Young the highest out of any of the major services. But even at 16, the Oklahoma phenom has made our ranking of him look a bit low. Young decided to remain loyal to his local Oklahoma basketball program, and instead of sharing the spotlight and ball at places like Kansas and Kentucky, the Norman native forged ahead in making OU relevant again. Sitting as the top scorer and assist man nationally heading into the new year, could Young’s early success change the minds of other five-star talents to decline invitations to play for the blueblood programs and attempt to place a program on the basketball map? Maybe Young’s footsteps are already being followed with 2019 stud Ashton Hagans’ early commitment to Georgia when he could have easily ended up at a blueblood.


6. USE OF THE MID-YEAR ENROLLMENT 

Austin Wiley
Austin Wiley (USA Basketball)

College football has been a breeding ground for mid-year enrollments. Bringing in should-be high school seniors a semester in advance to get them better acclimated to their future college homes and the physicality of the game has been its primary function. College basketball contemporaries have taken a note from the football side. Instead of patiently awaiting their nine-month stint from enrollment to real games, Austin Wiley and Silvio De Sousa decided that wait is no longer needed. Wiley made the switch from high school to Auburn’s rotation last winter, and this year DeSousa could turn Kansas into a national contender. Could this just be the tip of the iceberg? We'll find out in the next few years.

7. DECOMMITMENTS 

The word commitment is a lightly tossed around term in the college football world, but it is beginning to seep into the college basketball realm, too. Eighteen members of the Rivals150 have backed off of their initial commitment to a respective college program. This year is a bit different than others, as Arizona, USC, Louisville and Oklahoma State have lost at least one member of their 2018 class because of the FBI sting that hit each of the schools. However, the federal investigation into the sport cannot be totally responsible for the spree of decommitments, as a number of others, including Creighton, DePaul and Georgia have been stung. Could 2017 be an anomaly, or is it a sign of things to come?

8. DUKE FINISHES EARLY SIGNING PERIOD WITH THREE TOP 10 PLEDGES

Cameron Reddish
Cameron Reddish (Courtesy of USA Basketball)

While John Calipari has become the figurehead of the one-and-done era - continually enrolling five-star prospects before ushering them off to the NBA just six months later - Coach K has taken the baton and run with it this fall. Duke will likely lose most of, if not, all of its starting lineup after this season. Restocking the cupboard in Durham is a must, and while there still is some work to be done in completing its 2018 class, the Blue Devils remain the best group in America. Top 5 wings RJ Barrett and Cameron Reddish, along with Top 10 point guard Tre Jones (the younger brother of former Duke star Tyus Jones), signed with the Blue Devils in November and pushed Coach K’s program to the top of the recruiting rankings once again.

9. OREGON AND VANDERBILT CAUSE A STIR 

Duke, Kentucky and Kansas - along with a slew of other consistent contenders - are commonly seen atop of the recruiting rankings. But in the 2018 class, Oregon and Vanderbilt sit at No.2 and No. 7, respectively, and the Commodores are in position to make another push this winter as they remain in the final three for five-star wing Romeo Langford. Oregon has not been short on success on the playing floor since the Dana Altman era began in 2010, but this year’s run on the recruiting trail is the best that the Ducks have ever enjoyed. Meanwhile, Vanderbilt went out and snagged the commitments of two Top 15 prospects in the 2018 class with a chance for a third. The Commodores made the most noise during and after the Early Signing Period, and while their success on the floor hasn’t been what they might have wanted during the early portions of the 2017-2018 campaign, Bryce Drew has created for a monster of presence on the recruiting front, making elite prospects think twice about the Vandy basketball program.

10. GEORGIA ENDS THE YEAR IN STYLE 

Kirby Smart ended the year by owning the Early Signing Period on the football side, but the basketball program in Athens also notched two Top 50 commitments during the final 10 days of the year. Ashton Hagans - a five-star guard and the first Top 10 prospect to pledge to Georgia since Lou Williams - and four-star wing Elias King decided they could be the catalysts for change at the SEC program. Hovering around good and average over the past 10 years, the 2019 class could be the group that makes Mark Fox more than just a coach known for his ability to get the best out of his guys. Better yet, he might place Georgia among the top of the SEC’s pecking order and a dark horse for future Final Four runs.