Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Five biggest recruiting winners and losers (so far) after the college basketball scandal
The still-developing college basketball bribery scandal that last week saw four high-profile assistant coaches and an Adidas executive get arrested and several other programs implicated has already had a massive effect on recruiting.
Here are the five biggest winners and losers as of now, with this case still unfolding and more indictments potentially coming down. We’ll start with the losers first.
TOP FIVE LOSERS1-Louisville
Even though Louisville didn’t have a coach arrested last week, the Cardinals were the biggest losers in the wake of the scandal. By far. Louisville saw head coach Rick Pitino “effectively fired” on Wednesday, while assistants Kenny Johnson and Jordan Fair were placed on leave on Friday. On the recruiting front, 2018 pledges Courtney Ramey and Anferee Simons decommitted, as did 2019 pledge David Johnson. Also among 2018 prospects, Romeo Langford and Moses Brown both cut the Cards, with Brown telling ESPN: “They’re out. I didn’t want to be associated with anything negative. I really don’t need that.”
The Wildcats, who saw assistant Book Richardson arrested, have kept most of their 2018 class together, with Shareef O’Neal, Brandon Williams and now Jahvon Quinerly all saying they’re still on board. But R.J. Barrett,Bol Bol and Simi Shittu all axed Arizona from their lists in the wake of the scandal. According to ESPN’s rankings, Barrett is No. 1 (and the projected No. 1 pick in 2019) in the class, Bol is No. 4 and Shittu is No. 6.
3. AuburnE.J. Montgomery, the 6-10 power forward from Marietta (GA) Wheeler, decommitted from Auburn after assistant Chuck Person was arrested last week. “We are going to open E.J.’s recruitment back up,” Montgomery’s father told Scout. Ranked No. 31 by ESPN.com, Montgomery was Auburn’s lone 2018 pledge.
The Hurricanes weren’t named in the US Department of Justice investigation, but they were linked to it via the Nassir Little situation. Jalen Carey, the 6-4 point guard from Immaculate Conception (N.J.) then cut Miami from his list before pledging this week to Syracuse. Carey is ranked No. 34 per ESPN.
Trojans assistant Tony Bland was one of the four coaches arrested last week and the school has hired an ex-FBI director to lead an internal investigation. On the recruiting front, the Trojans probably weren’t going to land Bol Bol anyway, but after listing them he’s now down to Kentucky and Oregon.
TOP FIVE WINNERS1-North Carolina
The 6-7 Little was linked to both Arizona and Miami (for big money) in the FBI complaints, but ended up committing to North Carolina, a Nike school, this week. He’s currently projected as a Top-10 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, per ESPN. The Heels also remain in play for Langford, the No. 5 player in 2018 who is also considering Kentucky, Kansas, UCLA and Indiana.2. KentuckyJohn Calipari never needs much help on recruiting, but with Barrett, Bol and Langford all eliminating other schools after the scandal (Arizona, Louisville and USC) the math just got a little better for Kentucky. Barrett, the projected No. 1 pick in 2018, is now down to Duke, Kentucky and Oregon and will announce Nov. 10. Bol has narrowed to Kentucky and Oregon, while Langford is looking at Kentucky, Kansas, North Carolina, UCLA and Indiana.
As discussed, the Ducks are now in the final two for Bol and the final three for Barrett — both of whom could be lottery picks in 2018 — and the final group for IMG Academy combo guard Eric Ayala, who visits this weekend.
The Terps could really turn out to be big winners here. With Louisville and Arizona out for Moses Brown, the 7-foot-2 New York City big man is now focusing on Maryland, which he’s already visited, and UCLA. Meantime, the Terps also hosted Keldon Johnson, Devon Dotson and Ayala last weekend.
See above on Jalen Carey.
The Bruins remain in the mix for a slew of big-time 2018 commits, including Brown, Zion Williamson, Darius Garland, Jordan Brown and Kenny Nwuba. Brown and Nwuba visit Oct. 20, while the other three visit Oct. 28. The Bruins remain untouched by the scandal.
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Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.