College basketball’s signing period begins Wednesday, and there are plenty of top-tier recruits around the country who have yet to make their college decisions.
College basketball’s signing period admittedly doesn’t present as much intrigue as football’s National Signing Day, when most gridiron recruits hold press conferences and release videos to make their pledges. For basketball, it’s potentially a month-long process of wondering.
Some of the hardwood’s most sought-after prospects already signed during the early period back in November, including No. 1 overall prospect DeAndre Ayton, a 7-footer who is heading to Arizona. Fourth-ranked Wendall Carter (Duke) and No. 6 Mitchell Robinson (Western Kentucky) also have signed.
That list used to include Michael Porter Jr., who originally signed a National Letter of Intent with Washington. But when coach Lorenzo Romar – and his father, Michael Sr. – were fired, Porter followed his dad to Missouri and will sign with the Tigers. Fellow 5-star Jeremiah Tilmon was headed to Illinois until the Fighting Illini fired John Groce, leading to Tilmon requesting release from his NLI.
Tilmon and others have from Wednesday until May 17 to make their final decisions and sign. Here’s a look at five top recruits who remain uncommitted headed into the signing period and a prediction where they’ll end up.
Note: All rankings are courtesy of Scout.com
Mohamed Bamba – No. 2 overall, 6-foot-11 Center
Bamba is still raw, but his athleticism and mobility for his size make him an elite prospect. His wingspan is roughly 7-foot-9 and he dunks and blocks shots with authority. He doesn’t have much range offensively, but he’s a game-changer on the defensive end because of his length.
The big man is down to Texas, Duke, Kentucky and Michigan and has taken official visits to each school. With the one-and-done era in full swing, it would seem obvious that Duke and Kentucky are his top choices from that list. However, the Longhorns and Wolverines are making hard pushes and still are very much in the mix.
Mohamed Bamba prediction: Texas. Shaka Smart currently has the No. 7 class in the nation with 4-star recruits PG Matt Coleman, SG Jase Febres, C Jericho Sims and PF Royce Hamm, and adding a center to that star-studded class will be a major coup with Bamba.
Trevon Duval – No. 3 overall, 6-foot-3 Point Guard
This might be one of the biggest mysteries remaining in the 2017 class. Duval hasn’t opened up much during the recruiting process, and only began taking official visits at the start of this year. He’s been Duke, Kansas, Arizona and Baylor with Seton Hall remaining a dark horse for the Delaware native. There’s plenty of interest in Duval’s decision considering his aggressive style of getting to the basket with shocking speed and his commitment to defense.
Duval said at the Nike Hoops Summit last month that he will announce his decision by doing “something different that no one has ever done before,” adding even more intrigue a choice that’s expected to come by the end of April.
Trevon Duval Prediction: Duke. With Luke Kennard, Jayson Tatum and Harry Giles declaring for the NBA Draft and Grayson Allen potentially also on his way out, minutes will be there for Duval, who would join Carter and fellow 5-star Gary Trent Jr. in Duke’s stellar class.
Kevin Knox – No. 7 overall, 6-foot-8 Small Forward
Knox’s decision is becoming one of the most anticipated of this year’s class. He’s extremely athletic and explosive, evident by his plethora of highlight-reel dunks. He gets to the basket with ease and has the quickness and athleticism to torture slower defenders who share his size but can’t matchup.
Blue-bloods like Duke, Kentucky and North Carolina are, of course, in the mix, as well as Florida State, which has been pushing hard for the Tampa native. But Missouri entered the fray recently since new coach Cuonzo Martin picked up Porter’s commitment, and Knox took a visit to Columbia this past weekend. The Tigers entering late has put a wrinkle in Knox’s recruitment.
Kevin Knox Prediction: Duke. Knox’s similar skills to Porter in my mind keeps him from Missouri, as well as his lack of relationship with Martin and his staff. Plenty of Blue Devils are leaving, and Knox could be the focal point of the offense immediately. Knox’s father recently said that those departures certainly will affect Knox’s decision, which is why I believe he’ll end up in Durham.
Brandon McCoy – No. 8 overall, 7-foot Center
McCoy is one of the class’ premier big men because of his agility and solid post moves. He can face up and hit mid-range jumpers, but he mostly plays with his back to the basket. He’s also a feared rim-protector and has great feet on the defensive end.
McCoy cut his list to Arizona, Oregon, UNLV, San Diego State and Michigan State, but recently said he’s down to two schools. Ayton is a close friend, and McCoy heading to Arizona would immediately give it one of the best frontcourts in the nation. The Spartans have been hard after the Chicago native who moved to San Diego for his high school career, but the Aztecs likely are out after coach Steve Fisher retired this week.
Brandon McCoy Prediction: Oregon. A twin-towers scenario at Arizona would be fun, but not ideal for either of their pro prospects. The Ducks provide immediate minutes with Chris Boucher gone and Tyler Dorsey declaring for the NBA Draft. McCoy will be able to shine right away for one of the Pac-12’s top teams.
Brian Bowen – No. 19 overall, 6-foot-7 Guard/Forward
Bowen has an array of moves and is one of the best mid- and short-range guards in this class. He can knock down jumpers off the dribble and spin and also can get to the basket and finish. He could use some work on his 3-point shooting, but that’s something will come in time.
The Saginaw, Mich., native played his high school ball at LaLumiere in Indiana and is considering multiple Midwest schools, including Michigan State and Creighton while also recently taking an unofficial visit to DePaul. But Arizona coach Sean Miller has long been a fan of Bowen, and the feeling appears to be mutual.
Brian Bowen Prediction: Michigan State. Bowen’s cousin is Jason Richardson, who helped the Spartans win the 2000 national championship before enjoying a long NBA career. High school teammate and fellow 5-star recruit Jaren Jackson Jr. already has signed with Michigan State. Many believe Arizona is the favorite, but I believe Bowen will return to his home state and join the Spartans.