Who’s Got Next? Muhammad & Noel Commit, Updates On Elite Recruits…Posted by Josh Paunil on April 12th, 2012
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 are missing or different things you would like to see, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lead Story: Top Recruit In the Country Chooses Kentucky
Noel’s Commitment Gives Wildcats Top Recruiting Class. Class of 2012 center Nerlens Noel, the best player in the high school ranks, committed to Kentucky yesterday over Georgetown and Syracuse. Noel joins shooting guard Archie Goodwin, small forward Alex Poythress and center Willie Cauley-Stein to give head coach John Calipari the best recruiting class in the country again. Goodwin and Poythress are both top-15 guys whereas Cauley-Stein is a top-50 recruit. Noel, a 6’11″, 216-pound big man, is the only person on this planet capable of filling Anthony Davis’ shoes at Kentucky and will provide an even better defensive presence and a great target in transition. The Massachusetts native is an excellent finisher and has good explosiveness and athleticism all over the court. He also has done a great job developing his offensive game and has shown an improved 15-foot jumper as well as better interior scoring moves. His rate of development is an extremely good sign for Kentucky fans since he’s already very talented. The good news for Wildcat fans doesn’t stop there since Coach Cal isn’t done yet in the Class of 2012. They’re still after power forward Anthony Bennett, a top-10 recruit, and have a very realistic shot at landing him too. The addition of Bennett would put this Kentucky recruiting class in the conversation of one of the greatest recruiting classes of all-time.
What They’re Saying
- Anthony Bennett on how he would fit in at Kentucky: “I can see myself fitting in [with] all schools but Kentucky, they produce great players. Coach Cal produces them to the league and makes them better and also they win national championships on top of that so it’s a great fit.”
- Shabazz Muhammad on committing to UCLA: “I felt that [head] coach [Ben] Howland and his staff just made me feel comfortable… that was the deciding factor. They haven’t been very good the last couple years, and we have the challenge to change that!”
- Nerlens Noel on choosing the Wildcats: “I just thought it was the best fit for me, personally. I talked to my mom. She liked it as well. She liked all three of the schools, but when it came down to it she liked Kentucky. She met both [assistant] coach Orlando [Antigua] and [head] coach [John] Calipari… she thought it was the best fit for me and I did, too.”
- Junior Zach LaVine on his top schools and timetable: “I don’t have a list but some schools that stick out are Louisville, UCLA, Arizona, Washington, Gonzaga, Colorado and Oregon State.”
- Junior Anton Gill on who he’s recruiting to join him at Louisville: “I’ve talked to [class of 2013 small forward] Greg McClinton a couple of times, [shooting guard] Theo Pinson in 2014, [class of 2013 point guard] Tyler Ennis who goes to St. Benedict’s, he’s really good, and [class of 2013 center] Kennedy Meeks too. I probably talk to Greg and Theo the most. I talk to them probably once or twice every couple of weeks.”
- Junior Nigel Williams-Goss on his five leaders: “Washington, Harvard, Missouri, Oklahoma and UNLV are my top five. First and foremost, my comfort level with all those coaching staffs – especially the point guard coaches – is really good and it’s important because for the team to be successful, the point guard and the point guard coach have to be on the same page and have a good relationship.”
- Sophomore star Andrew Wiggins on how good of a fit Kentucky is: “It’s a fast-paced game. They have a lot of scorers on their team and I think I would be a good fit.”
What You Missed
Best Scorer In the Country Stays Out West. Class of 2012 small forward Shabazz Muhammad, the most talented offensive player in any class, committed to UCLA yesterday over Duke and Kentucky. Muhammad joins point guard Kyle Anderson and small forward Jordan Adams and gives head coach Ben Howland the number three recruiting class in the country. The Bruins now have two top-five commits and they aren’t even done in the Class of 2012. They’re also chasing after power forward Tony Parker and small forwards Devonta Pollard and Anthony January although Parker looks like the only realistic recruit that they could land. UCLA should already be the Pac-12 favorite with Muhammad coming in but the potential addition of Parker could help them make a run in the 2013 NCAA Tournament. One reason Muhammad is such a highly touted recruit is because of his ability to get to the basket. He has a great mid-range game and is very explosive in the lane. He’s a good athlete who has the ability to finish above the rim and through contact. Muhammad is the type of guy who is a program-changer. He’s going to be an outstanding player at UCLA and will help a squad that was atrocious in scoring and rebounding, ranked below the likes of the New Jersey Institute of Technology in both categories.
NCAA Accepts Baylor’s Self-Imposed Penalties, Recruits Remain Committed. Whenever your program has to self-impose penalties for recruiting violations in multiple sports, it’s reasonable to worry about whether any of your current commitments will de-commit or ask for a release, but after the NCAA decided that Baylor’s self-imposed penalties were enough, it looks like the Bears may not lose any of their Class of 2012 recruits. Power forward Ricardo Gathers was a guy who looked like he may not sign with Baylor after worrying about whether the Bears would be hit with a postseason ban but now that they won’t be, Gathers is just waiting for the smoke to clear and will likely sign next week. There have been no other reports of point guard L.J. Rose or centers Isaiah Austin or Chad Rykhoek re-thinking their commitments so their top-five recruiting class remains intact.
What We Learned
Junior Point Guard Has Several Standouts, UCLA Ties. Class of 2013 point guard Zach LaVine doesn’t even have a list together yet, however, he does have some schools that stand out to him and a timetable for when he wants to commit. LaVine lists Louisville, UCLA, Arizona, Washington, Gonzaga, Colorado and Oregon State as the schools that stand out to him and says he wants to make a decision at the end of the summer or the beginning of his senior year. He’s looking to play in a system that gets up and down the court and although he’s mostly getting West Coast attention right now, he has been in constant contact with some East Coast schools. He’s already taken visits to UCLA, Washington, Gonzaga and Oregon State and wants to take a closer look at Baylor and Louisville. Because of his location in Washington, he’s close with some former and future Huskies (including Tony Wroten, Jr. and Terrence Ross, both of whom have declared for the 2012 NBA Draft) although he does have family ties to UCLA too. LaVine says almost everyone in his immediate family are Bruins fans and that it does affect his recruitment a little bit.
Jordan Brand Classic Features Top Prospects Saturday. Don’t miss your last chance to see the best players in the country all on the same court Saturday at 7 PM on ESPN. All the prospects you know about like Nerlens Noel (Kentucky) and Shabazz Muhammad (UCLA) are featured in this game but it’s also a great opportunity to see a glimpse of less talked about guys like centers Steven Adams (Pittsburgh) and Kaleb Tarczewski (Arizona). There will also be a couple of great match-ups as point guard Kris Dunn (Providence) and Marcus Paige (North Carolina) will be going at is as will shooting guards like Archie Goodwin (Kentucky) and Ricardo Ledo (Providence). There are only two undecided prospects left in the Jordan Brand Classic in power forwards Anthony Bennett and Tony Parker so you can bet there will be some heavy focus and analysis on those two guy’s recruitment’s.
Video of the Week
Here’s a look at a highlight tape of the number one recruiting class in the country: