Wednesday's Leftovers: Michael Foster, Michigan St., UCLA, more
The 2021 class is at the forefront of the recruiting universe, which is why we take a deeper look at the situation surrounding Michael Foster and how programs at Michigan State, Oklahoma State, Pitt and UCLA are faring with the current crop of juniors.
2022 Rankings: Top 75
There has been some speculation regarding Michael Foster reclassifying into the 2020 class, but that never seemed to be too close to reality. Foster is young for his grade level, and even if he did reclassify he would have to spend at least two years in college before entering the NBA Draft due to age restrictions.
In the meantime, his recruitment has remained fluid. As with any top 10 prospect, Foster is hearing from the very best. Georgia has been perceived as the leader for several months, now which seems fairly accurate. The Bulldogs have already brought him to campus for an official visit, so they are definitely a heavy suitor, but also not the only team in play for Foster.
Instead, a number of programs have continued to pursue him, including Arkansas, Baylor, Florida State, Illinois, Kansas and Michigan. West Coast powers Arizona, UCLA and USC are also involved, but for now it doesn't appear that Foster is close to a commitment. However, do not count out Foster's option to turn pro, whether that means playing overseas in Europe or Australia or becoming a member of the new G League select team.
It should be noted that Michigan State - at least as things currently stand - will not have a single senior leave its program after next season. That could change, but for now there is very little need in the 2021 class.
That won’t deter Tom Izzo and his staff from pursuing some of the best in their region. Already sitting with the commitment of four-star junior Pierre Brooks, look for the Spartans to place a priority on the backcourt. Jaden Akins and Kobe Bufkin are two of the top juniors in the state and both hold MSU offers. One of the two will pick the Spartans, and my guess is that it will be Akins.
The Spartans just offered James Graham, an emerging forward from Wisconsin, and are heavily involved for Charles Bediako, but I am not sure if they will land either. Florida State is my prediction for Graham, while Michigan has come on heavy for Bediako. Alabama and Duke are two others to monitor with Bediako, a Canadian prospect.
With Akins and Brooks in tow, the real question would then become whether Max Christie will pick the Spartans. That is a relative toss-up, but my FutureCast currently resides on MSU for Christie. However, much could change before Christie commits in the fall.
Oklahoma State is always going to be a major recruiting player as long as Mike Boyton is overseeing the Big 12 program. Sure, it won’t consistently enroll top 5 classes like the one that it will bring to campus this fall (led by top-rated senior Cade Cunningham), but I would rest easy with Boynton as my head coach.
Now, does he have a little pressure to win this year? Yes, but when you have someone like Cunningham running the show - along with players such as Isaac Likekele, the Boone brothers, Ferron Flavors, Yor Anei and his fellow 2020 classmates - optimism is definitely warranted.
The Pokes' chances of landing another strong class is the question at hand. They are involved with Arthur Kaluma and Trey Alexander, as you noted, though I like their chances best with Alexander, an in-state product. OSU is also heavily involved in the recruitments of Alex Fudge, Deebo Coleman, CJ Noland and Daimion Collins, just to name a few.
As things stand now, Pitt would have just two scholarships to fill in the 2021 class.
Pitt has handed out a few more offers to members of the 2021 class, and has also worked on tightening its relationship with a few of its top targets, which include Jalen Warley, David Jones and Franck Kepnang.
Pitt, which has an open scholarship in the 2020 class, is also looking at the reclassification route with players such as Mac Etienne, Efton Reid and Gabe Wiznitzer. The former two are the likeliest to reclassify and could do so later this summer. Pitt is involved in both of their recruitments.
Quincy Allen, Jordan Riley, Jordan Hawkins and Brandon Weston make up another group of players that Pitt has made offers to and has continued to monitor. Look for the Panthers to take at least two players in the 2021 class. They'd like to get a wing who can make shots and a frontcourt player.
The Bruins already have a verbal commitment from top 35 junior Will McClendon, who can play all over the perimeter. His versatility gives the Bruins plenty of wiggle room, depending on the route they want to take in completing their 2021 class.
Jaden Hardy is a primary focus, and the Bruins' strong ties to Las Vegas do not hurt their cause, but for now Kentucky is the team to beat. Hunter Sallis, Langston Love, Pat Baldwin, Michael Foster and Alex Tchikou each have an offer from the Bruins, but I am not sure I see it in the cards with any of them. The Bruins are also trying to lure Franck Kepnang and Mac Etienne across the nation, though they might be better off with Etienne, who could reclassify later this summer.
DaRon Holmes is worth keeping tabs on, though his move to Montverde Academy in Florida does not help. UCLA would have easier access to him had the top 30 forward remained in Arizona.
Another player to watch, though, is Peyton Watson. The bluebloods are beginning to take notice him, but if Watson decides to remain on the West Coast, UCLA would be my pick, which would be a big step for the Pac-12 program as it tries to regain its footing as a national power.