Who has the best chance to swoop in and grab best talent remaining?
Less than 48 hours from now, the class of 2018 will be on the clock as the early signing period begins. While we have an idea of where some of the top talent is headed - thanks to their commitments earlier this year - there is still a handful of five-star prospects available, along with close to 20 percent of the Rivals150. Who has the chance to make a statement beginning Wednesday and mop up the best talent that the 2018 class has to provide? Look no further than Kansas, Kentucky and Michigan State, with two others in contention for signing week supremacy.
Believe it or not, Arkansas enters the early signing period with the most Rivals150 pledges out of any program in America. While none can be seen in the top 75 of our rankings, each exhibit tremendous potential as college producers. The Hogs hit the ground running early, as they secured the commitments of in-state talents Ethan Henderson, Isaiah Joe and Desi Sills. While the Razorbacks did suffer a blow in June due to the decommitment of five-star power forward Reggie Perry, Arkansas found its stride a few months later as it rattled off three more Rivals150 commitments. Keyshawn Embery, Jordan Phillips and Reggie Chaney each came off the board consecutively, giving Mike Anderson arguably the deepest class that has been assembled this fall. Arkansas is about done, and several others will catch up and surpass them in the team rankings, but this year’s group could be one that cements Arkansas’ status as a contending force in the SEC.
The Jayhawks have surprised a few in the industry due to their recent uptick in interest and success on the transfer market. Why would a name brand program utilize such an avenue if it was supposed to be a maverick on the high school recruiting front? If this was supposed to be a call to Bill Self as to whether he still has ‘it,’ the Hall of Fame head coach answered the bell this fall by securing three top-50 commitments, two of those coming in the five-star variety. Questions persist regarding the depth of their frontcourt this winter, but those will no longer exist next winter, as Silvio De Sousa and David McCormack - two monster producers in the interior - are headed to Lawrence. Five-star guard Devon Dotson will also be signing with KU this week. Kansas likely won’t be done, as they are heavily entrenched within the recruitment of Zion Williamson, Romeo Langford and Quentin Grimes, and chances are they will secure at least one of the three.
Kentucky is more of a wildcard for the first signing period, as the Wildcats currently maintain just one class of 2018 commitment: five-star guard Immanuel Quickley. Chances remain slim that the Wildcats close out next week with just one in the hopper, as they remain in contention for five-star seniors Bol Bol, R.J. Barrett, Zion Williamson, Quentin Grimes, Darius Garland and Keldon Johnson, along with top-50 guard Tyler Herro - a one-time Wisconsin commit who will begin an official visit Friday. The Wildcats have a cupboard full of talent in the frontcourt and, unlike past years where they were expected to lose a handful of their freshmen to the NBA, this year’s roster boasts just a few potential early departures. Regardless, Grimes and Garland are likely headed elsewhere, but two signings added to Quickley’s this week would be another giant victory for John Calipari on the recruiting trail.
They are all about done in regards to the 2018 recruiting class, but the work that Tom Izzo and his staff have done leading up to Wednesday’s Signing Day kick-off should not be understated. They began the class with the commitment of Rivals150 big man Thomas Kithier more than 15 months ago. In November of last year, the Spartans found their replacement for Lourawls Nairn at the lead guard spot in efficient playmaking four-star guard Foster Loyer. While it took until June to strike again, Michigan State wasn’t kept silent for long. The Spartans struck twice in the Rivals150 in short order, first as Gabe Brown committed, and later as his fellow Michigan peer, Marcus Bingham, committed. Michigan State wanted one more versatile wing option that could develop in a multiple position weapon, something they found in four-star small forward Aaron Henry in September. Do not expect the Spartans to cause much more commotion in the 2018 class, but signing five Rivals150 prospects within a week’s time is another major statement by Tom Izzo’s bunch.
Oregon enters the first signing period week with plenty of optimism. While the Ducks sit with just two commitments, that could be doubled as they remain in the final group for two elite prospects who are expected to come off the board this week. First is Bol Bol, the most unique high school basketball prospect the circuit has seen in recent years. Kentucky remains the other program in the mix, but the Ducks have gained major traction of late and could walk away with the signature from the top-five center. The other domino set to fall is that of top-ranked wing R.J. Barrett. A final three of Oregon, Kentucky and Duke has been solidified for a few weeks now as the Wildcats and Blue Devils have received the most talk up until this point. However, Oregon, with great in-roads to Canada, should not be discounted as some have begun to believe that the Ducks could secure his signature later this week. Add in the duo of top-five prospects to five-star small forward Louis King and top-60 forward Miles Norris and Dana Altman may mop up in the week ahead.
Others just missing out: Duke, Michigan, Maryland, Indiana, Vanderbilt, UNC