Winners of the Early Signing Period
The Early Signing Period is far from over and there will be more happenings between now and the window’s final day on Nov. 18, but the bulk of the action is in the rear view. Below, Rivals.com has a look at the programs that won the week and helped themselves the most.
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There’s no bigger winner than the Wolverines, which landed five-star Caleb Houstan to headline the class. They also added four-stars Moussa Diabate, Isaiah Barnes, Frankie Collins and Kobe Bufkin along with three-star Will Tschetter during the early period. The country’s No. 1 class is an impressive, expansive and versatile haul that could serve as the bedrock of a new era in Ann Arbor.
Juwan Howard has used his NBA pedigree and history at the school to hold off blue blood programs for some of his prized prospects, so high-level players clearly believe in the second-year head coach’s vision and ability to develop players for the NBA. Don’t be shocked if this success compounds quickly should Michigan significantly improve on last year’s .500 conference record. Howard has the perfect pedigree for his current situation, and the Wolverines could become an absolute juggernaut on the trail if he begins to win at a high level.
No. 2 overall prospect Paolo Banchero is the top prospect to sign during the early period and made things official with Duke just before Noon on Wednesday. Joining Banchero in the Blue Devils’ two-man class is fellow five-star A.J. Griffin, who also signed on the period’s opening day. The scariest part of this Duke haul, however, is the fact that Mike Krzyzewski isn’t done just yet. Duke is seen as the front-runner to land current No. 1 overall prospect Patrick Baldwin Jr., who won’t make an announcement until down the road, and also in the mix for five-star guard Trevor Keels. The Blue Devils’ haul will be impressive regardless of what Baldwin and Keels decide, but landing Baldwin would give Coach K three of the top eight prospects in America.
Auburn’s biggest win of the period came a month or so ago, when it landed the commitment of five-star Jabari Smith. And while Smith hasn’t signed just yet, he says he intends to later in the period. The Tigers got more good news on Thursday night, when Rivals100 guard Trey Alexander announced his intentions to sign with Bruce Pearl’s program. Tiger fans have to love the two-man class Pearl has assembled thus far, as he’s hit on two priority targets he identified early in the cycle.
FLORIDA STATE AND KENTUCKY
The classes signed by Florida State and Kentucky currently rank No. 2 and No. 3 respectively. The Seminoles signed all four of their committed prospects on Wednesday, including class headliner Matthew Cleveland, a five-star forward out of Atlanta’s Pace Academy. Meanwhile, John Calipari continues to do what John Calipari does, landing letters of intent from all three of his committed players, including No. 10 overall prospect Damion Collins. The Wildcats may still add another five-star down the road, as they are among the leaders for Hunter Sallis, the sixth-ranked player in the country. Any way you slice it, things remain good in Lexington and Tallahassee.
Family ties paid off in a big way for the Huskers on Friday night, when five-star guard Bryce McGowens announced his intentions to sign with Nebraska and join his older brother Trey in Lincoln. McGowens is the first five-star prospect to ever land at Nebraska and should energize Fred Hoiberg’s program. The Huskers also signed Japanese sharpshooter Keisei Tominaga, a 3-point specialist who plays junior college ball in Texas and has been referred to as ‘the Japanese Steph Curry.’ Nebraska’s class, which also included 6-foot-9 forward Will Breidenbach, is one of the more intriguing hauls in the country even if it’s ranking isn’t super lofty.
The Flyers managed to land the highest-rated recruit in program history when four-star forward DaRon Holmes, the No. 36 prospect in the country, signed his letter of intent on Wednesday. Holmes chose Anthony Grant’s program over a long list of major offers, including ones from fellow finalists Arizona, Cal and Marquette. Dayton’s class is rounded out by the No. 90 overall prospect, four-star Kaleb Washington in addition to three-star guard Malachi Smith. It certainly appears as though the Flyers are making haste capitalizing off of last year’s 29-2 finish and the draft stock of projected lottery pick Obi Toppin.
Five-star shooting guard Max Christie signed with Michigan State on Wednesday, and headlines one of Tom Izzo's most impressive classes in his long history at the school. Four-star guards Jaden Akins and Pierre Brooks round out the ninth-ranked haul and have positioned Michigan State to possibly move into the top five later in the cycle should things break in their favor.