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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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Friday / August 7.
  • 2017’s Top 10 Recruiting Storylines

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    With 2016 behind us, it’s time to look ahead to 2017.

    According to the 2017 ESPN 100, four of the top seven players in the class remain uncommitted, and eight of the top 20 have yet to announce their future plans.

    Now as we look ahead to the spring signing period which runs April 12-May 17, here are the Top 10 Recruiting Storylines heading into 2017:

    1. What’s next for Hamidou Diallo?

    The 6-foot-5, 190-pound shooting guard could be on a college campus within the next couple of weeks. But which one? And for how long?

    At the tail end of 2016, Diallo, ranked No. 11 by ESPN.com, took official visits to UConn and Kentucky. Some reports erroneously indicated he was was ready to enroll at UConn immediately, but then he went to Kentucky and said he had a “great” visit.” A visit to Arizona in the coming days is also expected although no date has been firmed up.

    Diallo, who is currently doing a post-graduate year at Putnam Science, is eligible for the 2017 NBA Draft because he turns 19 in July and will be one year removed from his graduating class. Yet he has insisted he plans on attending college.

    “I’m 100 percent going to college right now,” Diallo said earlier this month. “I believe it is the right thing for me and my family right now.”

    At this stage, Diallo is looking to join a college team in January, but it remains unclear if he will play then. He could potentially train with the team and sit out the semester. He could then either enter the 2017 NBA Draft, which would be an unprecedented move after one semester of school, or spend the full 2017-18 season in college getting used to that level of play.

    Many NBA scouts don’t think Diallo is ready for the league this year, but then again the NBA drafts on potential and he has plenty of it. And it only takes one team to draft you.

    Putnam Science is slated to play at the Hoophall Classic on Jan. 15. If Diallo is still playing with the team then, he figures to draw a huge crowd of coaches and scouts. If not, he could be getting ready for his first college classes.

    2. Where will Mohamed Bamba take his talents?

    The 7-foot center from the Westtown (PA) School and the PSA Cardinals is working with a list of seven schools: Duke, Kentucky, UConn, Michigan, Syracuse, Texas and Harvard. He has already taken unofficial visits to Harvard (Sept. 24) and Kentucky (Oct. 14), and officials to Michigan (Sept.) and Texas (Oct).

    Ranked No. 4 by ESPN.com, Bamba is planning visits to Duke and Kentucky in the New Year, but has yet to set any dates.

    Quade Green, Bamba’s PSA Cardinals, teammate told ZAGSBLOG he plans to recruit Bamba, and several others, to Kentucky. Meantime, Bamba has also been linked to Duke signees Carter Jr. and Gary Trent Jr. But don’t count out Texas, either.

    “Mo Bamba and Quade Green are close friends and they played AAU together and I believe that they enjoyed playing together,” Evan Daniels of Scout.com said on The 4 Quarters Podcast. “I think any time that you can have a close friend already in your recruiting class, it can help that school. You certainly can’t count Kentucky out.

    “I don’t think you can count Texas out. I think he really liked his visit there and they could even be the leader right now. Mo’s not going to say that and there’s still a long ways to go. But Texas is certainly a legitimate player.”

    Bamba is currently projected as the No. 2 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft by DraftExpress.com, behind Arizona-bound 7-footer DeAndre Ayton.


    3. What’s going to happen with Trevon Duval?

    The 6-foot-4 point guard from IMG Academy (FL) recently named a top five of Arizona, Seton Hall, Kansas, Duke and Baylor. Schools like Maryland, UCLA and Villanova, once in the mix, are now out.

    Ranked No. 5 by ESPN.com, Duval has yet to take any official visits and has kept a very low profile on his recruitment, other than to say it will be a “business decision.”

    “My situation is different because I’m planning to play one year of college,” Duval told USA Today. “For that reason I want to make sure I pick the best situation to have success right away. I want to win wherever I go. For me, it’s more of a business decision.”

    “There’s just a long ways to go with Trevon Duval’s recruitment,” Daniels said. “He has his list of five, but I couldn’t tell you who I think the top two schools are for him.”

    Duval is projected as the No. 6 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft by DraftExpress.com.


    4. What’s up with Brandon McCoy?

    The 6-11 center from San Diego (CA) Cathedral Catholic is ranked No. 6 by ESPN.com and has a list of Arizona, Michigan State, Oregon, San Diego State and UNLV.

    His most recent visit was to Michigan State in Nov.

    He broke down all of his schools with Sean Scherer of 247Sports.com.


    5. Who’s got the edge for Kevin Knox?

    When the 6-8 Tampa (FL) Catholic forward played at the John Wall Holiday Invitational this past week, all Kentucky’s John Calipari, UNC’s Roy Williams and Duke’s Jeff Capel all came out to see him put on a show.

    Ranked No. 7 by ESPN.com, Knox is considering those three along with Florida State, the alma mater of his father, Kevin Knox Sr.

    He has taken only one official, to Duke in November. Next up is Florida State next weekend (Jan. 7-9). After that, Knox is slated to take officials to Kentucky (Jan. 28-30) and UNC (Feb. 4-6).

    He visited the campuses of both Duke (for practice) and North Carolina (for the Monmouth game) on Wednesday while in North Carolina.

    “I want to commit after the season,” Knox said last week at the City of Palms Classic. “I want to slow everything down and just take my time with it.”


    6. Will Brian Bowen pull the trigger soon?

    Brian “Tugs” Bowen, the 6-foot-7 small forward from La Lumiere (IN),  expects to make his college decision relatively soon after the New Year.

    Ranked No. 13 by ESPN.com, he’s working with a top five of Arizona, Michigan State, N.C. State, Creighton and Texas.

    “That decision process is going very well right now,” Bowen said last week. “I’m down to my five schools, I’ve taken all of my official visits probably in a couple weeks, or going into January, I’ll make my decision, so we will see where it goes from here.”


    7. Who will land Trae Young?

    With Quade Green’s commitment to Kentucky, they now have two guards in the Class of 2017 with Green and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, a 6-6 combo guard from Canada who plays at Hamilton Heights Christian (TN). Kentucky also remains in the mix for Diallo.

    What that means for Young — ranked No. 15 by ESPN.com — is open to interpretation.

    The 6-2 floor general from Norman (OK) North and MoKan Elite was believed to be focusing on Kentucky and Oklahoma, with Kansas and Oklahoma State among those also involved. With Green going to Kentucky, it remains unclear if they would take another point guard, or simply put all of their efforts into Diallo in terms of fortifying the backcourt. That could spell good news for Oklahoma, Young’s home-state school.

    “I think Trae is looking pretty closely at Oklahoma and Kansas,” Scout’s Daniels said. “Oklahoma State’s still involved, but in my eyes I think it’s Kansas and Oklahoma. I went on record saying I don’t think Trae Young ends up at Kentucky and I still believe that. I don’t know if Kentucky will take three point guards and I don’t know if I see Trae Young going to a place that already has two.”

    Young won the Peach Jam with MoKan Elite and then captured a gold medal with the USA U18 team at the FIBA Americas Championship.


    8. Who’s next for Matt Coleman?

    Three big point guard dominoes still remain in Duval, Young and Matt Coleman.

    Coleman, the 6-foot-1, 174-pound point guard from Oak Hill (VA) Academy, plans to commit in the coming weeks and then sign during the spring.

    “I think that’s going to be the plan,” he said recently. “I could see a commitment coming within a month from now, but right now I just don’t have that feeling of where I want to go in my heart.”

    Coleman is down to Duke and Texas. The fact that he didn’t commit to Duke in the early period signifies he is seriously considering Texas, which is also in the mix for Bamba, with whom Coleman visited.

    “Mo was there with me,” Coleman said. “He said he likes what Shaka [Smart] does but I think he’s signing late as well. I don’t think we’re going to rush it, we’re just going to let it come to us.”

    If Coleman ends up picking Texas, it will leave Duke without a point guard in the Class of 2017 (along with Syracuse), meaning both schools might have to look hard at the junior college or graduate transfer options come spring.


    9. Where will Jordan Tucker land?

    The 6-foot-7 wing from Marietta (GA) Wheeler is down to Indiana and Villanova and recently took official visits to both, which he described here.

    Tucker, who transferred to Wheeler from White Plains (N.Y.) Archbishop Stepinac for his senior season, will be looking at location a bit, because of the amount of family he has in the New York area.

    “I’ve been away for a while, and I’d kind of like to have my family be able to see me play,” said Tucker, ranked No. 38 by ESPN.com “Indiana plays a lot of games in the Northeast, the Big Ten Tournament is in the North, and they played North Carolina at the Barclays. It could work either way. I don’t want to focus on location by itself, but I do want to find what the best fit is for me.”

    Looking towards the timetable for his decision, he’s going to be looking at making a decision within the next month or so.

    “Either January or early February for me I think,” Tucker said. “I’m just looking to see who’s ready to leave as well as playing time.”


    10. Who will finish up with the No. 1-ranked class?

    Surprise, surprise but Kentucky has the No. 1-ranked class at the moment, according to ESPN.com. UCLA is at No. 2, followed by Duke, Arizona and Washington.

    Kentucky’s five-man class could grow to include some combination of Diallo, Bamba, Knox and Young, which is a scary thought, while Duke remains in the mix for Knox, Duval, Bamba and Coleman and Arizona is still in it for Diallo, Duval, McCoy and Bowen.



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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.