Wednesday's Leftovers: North Carolina, Kyree Walker, more
Today, many of the nation’s elite prospects will make it official and sign their letters of intent. However, there is a slew of others who have yet to commit and could potentially hold off in doing so until the spring.
I believe they will add another player, but who that might is not entirely clear at this point. What we know right now is that North Carolina is set with its five-man class, and all those players are expected to sign over the next seven days. It is the second-ranked group nationally and arguably Roy Williams’ best class dating back to original his hiring in Chapel Hill in 2003.
While the Tar Heels' scholarship count is full, defections have become a consistent theme every spring. Duke and Kentucky have become great at adding late-year commitments, and with the recruiting success that the Heels have achieved this fall I could see them heading down a similar path if a surprise transfer takes place or if Armando Bacot puts together a tremendous freshman run that he parlays into an NBA Draft selection.
It might not be the high school route that the blueblood program takes. I don’t see Ziaire Williams choosing UNC, and with Bryce Thompson going to Kansas there is no one left on UNC's recruiting board. Will there be a high school decommitment after a coaching change, similar to what we saw with Anthony Harris last spring? Maybe, but the likeliest option might be the grad-transfer route, similar to what they just achieved with Christian Keeling and Justin Pierce.
Your guess is as good as mine. Kyree Walker, a four-star wing, left Hillcrest Prep in Arizona last month with the hope of enrolling in college between semesters. Word is that he is already fully qualified and that if he does choose a school in the coming weeks he would have two options. He could enroll and then redshirt for the remainder of the college season - similar to what Hamidou Diallo did three years ago - before seeing his eligibility begin in the fall of 2020. The other avenue he could take is to enroll and begin to play immediately, similar to what we saw with Austin Wiley four years ago.
Arkansas has been the most discussed landing spots for Walker, but there could be a few others that could become involved including Kansas, Memphis and Michigan. It seems that, for now, the idea of choosing the professional path has come and gone for this winter, and his likeliest option is college at the turn of the calendar year.
Cam Thomas is one of the top scorers in high school basketball and, as you would imagine, he could practically pick the school that he wants to attend. Early on, NC State was the leader, but then UConn took the pole position. Auburn also made a push, but his recruitment now seems to be more of a battle between LSU and UCLA. He has not outlined a timeline for his commitment, but there is a chance that he could end his recruitment in the coming days. If he does, I would expect his commitment to be given to LSU. The Tigers hosted Thomas on the second weekend in September and have not backed off in their prioritization of the Virginia native. They also were able to secure the commitment from his school teammate, Bradley Ezewiro, last month, which should not hurt in their pursuit of the elite scorer. If he does wait, it could work in favor for UCLA or another potential suitor.
I do, but I also would not count out Indiana. Dawson Garcia, one of the top remaining forwards available this fall, is all but set to sign within the coming days. He just took an official visit to Marquette over the weekend, which will be his last before coming to a college decision. Memphis and Minnesota are also involved and have not laid off in their pursuit of him. But much of the talk has surrounded the Golden Eagles and Hoosiers - and rightfully so.
With signing day now here, Garcia has made plans for a signing on November 20. Marquette currently has my vote in the FutureCast, and while a selection of IU would not make for a giant surprise, I am sticking with the Big East bunch.
That is a difficult one to answer right now because Duke is not entirely done with its 2020 class. AJ Griffin was a great start, but, I don’t see Duke's 2021 class being so large in numbers compared to its 2020 class. Outside of Jalen Johnson, there is no sure-fire one-and-done that will be on next season's roster. Jaemyn Brakefield and Henry Coleman are going to be great multiple-year guys, and Jeremy Roach, DJ Steward and Mark Williams could follow a similar path.
Moving on to 2021 players, I would keep an eye on Max Christie and Pat Baldwin. I like the Blue Devils' chances with each of them. Many of the Big Ten programs will be in pursuit, especially Michigan State, Northwestern and Purdue for Christie. Baldwin will have the same bunch to choose from, along with all of the blueblood programs and Milwaukee, where his father is the men’s head coach.
Jon Kuminga is a total toss-up right now, but if he does reclassify into the 2020 class Duke’s chances might diminish. Remaining in the 2021 class is a better option for Kuminga if he wants to attend Duke.
Lastly, Paolo Banchero has already taken an official visit to Duke, but he has also visited Kentucky, North Carolina and Tennessee. Washington is heavily involved, as is Gonzaga, with a few others in the mix, but I think that his recruitment comes down to the Blue Devils and UK, and my FutureCast pick is currently the Wildcats.