Who’s Got Next? Elite Talents Commit, Top Classes Crumble and Prospects Discuss Realignment

Posted by Josh Paunil on September 28th, 2011

Who’s Got Next? is a weekly column by Josh Paunil, the RTC recruiting guru. We encourage you to check out his website dedicated solely to college basketball recruiting, National Recruiting Spotlight, for more detailed recruiting information. Once a week he will bring you an overview of what’s going on in the complex world of recruiting, from who is signing where among the seniors to who the hot prospects are at the lower levels of the sport. If you have any suggestions as to areas we’re missing or different things you’d like to see, please let us know at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.


Head coaches around the country are watching their top recruiting classes crumble before their eyes. Elite prospects are beginning to commit to big-name schools, initiating the domino affect across the college basketball recruiting world. Recruits are also speaking out on conference realignment and how it will affect their college decision. The first fall edition of Who’s Got Next? brings you this and more as we draw closer and closer to the fall signing period in November.

What They’re Saying

  • Wichita Heights head coach Joe Auer on senior Perry Ellis committing to Kansas: “He (Ellis) adores [Kansas assistant] coach [Danny] Manning, he watched how he handled the Morris twins. He was studious in watching how they developed.”
  • Senior shooting guard Archie Goodwin on committing to Kentucky: “He (head coach John Calipari) told me he wants me bad and I’m a top recruit for him. No matter what, he wants the ball in my hands and he feels like me committing will probably get the ball rolling for the rest of the class. It’s got to start somewhere.”
  • Junior shooting guard Brannen Greene on conference realignment: “I don’t care what conference I play in, I’m more so looking at the program. I think it’s great for the ACC [though] and it’s a shocker. If UConn and Louisville were to join, it would be an amazingly competitive conference!”
  • Junior point guard Isaiah Lewis on conference realignment: “It matters in my recruitment a lot. Certain schools that are recruiting me may go to a conference that I don’t think fits my game. I’ve been hearing a lot, I’m hearing Kansas may go Big East, West Virginia is going to the SEC and UConn is going to the ACC.”
  • Junior small forward Troy Williams on conference realignment: “It doesn’t affect my recruitment, they’re all moving to better conferences to get players and play better teams.”
  • Junior power forward Chris Walker on setting his decision date: “After I commit, I’m hoping to get someone like [Class of 2013 guys]  [center] Nerlens Noel, [shooting guard] Brannen Greene, [guards] Andrew and Aaron Harrison, [power forward] Julius Randle, [point guard] Kasey Hill or [small forward] Jabari Parker to come with me.”
  • Sophomore stud Jahlil Okafor on his recruitment: “I’m a big fan of Kentucky, but I haven’t heard from them. I really like what Kentucky has to offer. They have a lot of history, and they have a track-record for getting players to the NBA, and that is my ultimate goal. They also have a great fan base and the entire state is high on basketball. Ohio State has been recruiting me pretty hard, but Arizona, Georgetown and Illinois are right in there too.”

What Alex Poythress Is Saying

  • On Kentucky: “Kentucky is a good school, I like their offense. Coach [John] Calipari is a good coach. He’s a pretty good guy. He knows what he’s talking about. He’s been around basketball a long time.”
  • On Vanderbilt: “Vandy has been recruiting me for a long time. I’m close with the coaching staff.”
  • On Memphis: “Memphis is a basketball city. I like how it’s a basketball city and they play up-tempo ball.”
  • On Florida: “Florida is a good school. Coach [Billy] Donovan is a good coach. I like how they use their wings.”
  • On Duke being dropped from his list: “Actually, they said they weren’t recruiting me anymore. They sent me an email saying they were going to back out of recruiting me so I said, ‘OK.'”

What We Learned

St. John’s 2011 Recruiting Class Falling Apart. After reeling in the number three recruiting class in the Class of 2011, the St. John’s recruiting class has fallen apart recently after the NCAA ruled three Red Storm freshman ineligible. One member of the trio, small forward Jakarr Sampson (#44), already de-committed from St. John’s but small forward Amir Garrett and center Norvel Pelle appear to be heading to prep schools as is Sampson for the 2011-12 school year. With these three gone, head coach Steve Lavin loses a third of his recruiting class including his second-best player in Sampson and his only power forward in Pelle. However, the Red Storm still has incredible depth and talent at the wing between small forward Sir’Dominic Pointer (#30), Maurice Harkless (#50) and shooting guard D’Angelo Harrison (#47), and they keep three of their four top 50 prospects for this upcoming season. One strong possibility is that Garrett and Pelle will stay committed to St. John’s and join the team in the 2012-13 season and even though Sampson de-committed he could end up back with the Red Storm. Lavin already has a strong Class of 2012 group of recruits since shooting guard Darrick Ward and power forward Ricardo Gathers (#31) have already chosen St. John’s.

Conference Realignment’s Effect on Recruiting. Many people have speculated what the effects of conference realignment would mean for the schools involved (including RTC) but few have taken a look at what it’s impact would be on the recruiting world. With this question lingering out there, RTC reached out to a few of the top recruits in the country to see whether conference realignment would be a factor in their recruitment. While most people, including Class of 2013 stars shooting guard Brannen Greene, small forward Troy Williams, power forward Chris Walker and center BeeJay Anya, say schools changing conferences doesn’t matter in their recruitment, Class of 2013 point guard Isaiah Lewis said it will have a strong impact. Lewis cited changes in playing styles among other things that worries him (to see exactly what Lewis and others had to say, check out the “What They’re Saying” section above). Although this is obviously a very small sample, the general consensus seems to be that conference realignment will have no impact on recruiting more often than it will. However, it will be interesting to see if prospects start changing their tunes once one of their front-runners switches conferences.

Goodwin Walks With the Wildcats. Class of 2012 shooting guard Archie Goodwin (#19) chose Kentucky last week giving the Wildcats their first senior commitment (to see why, check out the “What They’re Saying” section above). This scoring guard is one of the best slashers in the country and can penetrate like few others on the offensive end. His dribble-drive attack is well-tuned and his athleticism and physicality helps him around the basket. He has the ability to knock down the perimeter jump shot and is unselfish enough so he can dish it to the open man when he draws multiple defenders. Goodwin also has the potential to be a great defender because of his physical tools and ability to keep his man in front of him. His rebounding and ball-handling skills are assets as well. Kentucky head coach John Calipari hopes this gets the ball rolling for the Wildcats in the Class of 2012 with many other elite prospects considering joining Big Blue Nation. Calipari has made a huge impression of a plethora of top recruits with stars like small forward Shabazz Muhammad (#1) and power forward DaJuan Coleman (#5) who are visiting Lexington for Big Blue Madness.

What You Missed

Poythress cuts list. Class of 2012 small forward Alex Poythress trimmed his list recently from five to four dropping Duke and keeping Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Memphis and Florida. Poythress cited Duke’s loss of interest in him as the central reason he cut his list (to see his full explanation and commentary on each school on his list check out the “What They’re Saying” section above). According to Five-Star Basketball, he doesn’t have a timetable for his commitment but he does plan on visiting Kentucky for Big Blue Madness October 14 as well as Memphis on October 21. Poythress has already visited each school on his list and he told National Recruiting Spotlight earlier that his trip to Lexington was his favorite. The Wildcats have pulled out all the stops for him since they even started recruiting his twin sister for the womens’ volleyball team, something he clearly appreciates.

Elite Junior Sets Decision Date. Class of 2013 power forward Chris Walker announced that he will commit to a school on November 15 since he wants to choose a college before he starts his high school basketball season (to see what else he has to say, check out the “What They’re Saying” section above). Walker will be deciding between Baylor, Florida, Florida State, Kansas, Kansas State, Kentucky, Memphis, Ohio State and UConn. Walker told National Recruiting Spotlight in July that Kentucky was his favorite school and nothing that he’s said privately indicates that he has since changed his mind. He has made multiple visits to in-state schools Florida and Florida State and hopes to visit Kentucky, Ohio State, UConn, Kansas, Kansas State, Memphis and Baylor in the near future, according to The Recruit Scoop. National Recruiting Spotlight will have an update on Walker’s recruitment in the next few days and RTC will fill you in on who’s leading for Walker, what his timetable looks like leading up to his decision and much more next Wednesday.

Ohio State’s Top Ten 2011 Recruiting Class Take a Hit. Small forward LaQuinton Ross (#51), a large reason the Buckeyes had a top ten recruiting Class in 2011, was ruled a non-qualifier by the NCAA Monday due to either his test scores or his academic transcript not meeting NCAA requirements. According to multiple credible outlets, it seems as though Ross plans on taking a course and improving his ACT in hopes of joining the Buckeyes in January. However, even if Ohio State loses out in this situation and doesn’t get Ross until the 2012-13 season, they look to be a national title contender (and is still ranked number three in RTC’s pre-season poll). The Buckeyes still have their three best prospects from the Class of 2011 in point guard Shannon Scott (#40), small forward Sam Thompson (#49) and center Amir Williams (#48) as well as multiple returning starters including star sophomore center Jared Sullinger. Although, if Ohio State were to get Ross back they would be getting a talented small forward with great size, length and athleticism. He can score in a variety of ways since he can hit three-pointers, make mid-range pull-up jumpers and slash to the basket to get easy buckets.

Video of the Week

Check out the latest highlights of one of the best players in the Class of 2013, power forward Julius Randle, courtesy of Ball is Life.

Josh Paunil (38 Posts)

Josh Paunil is a college basketball recruiting analyst who founded National Recruiting Spotlight and writes a weekly column for Rush The Court titled, Who's Got Next?

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One response to “Who’s Got Next? Elite Talents Commit, Top Classes Crumble and Prospects Discuss Realignment”

  1. Really impressed with Julius Randle’s performance, glad he’s getting some press.

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