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.
Top 10 Recruiting Storylines From the Hoophall Classic
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — Many of the top players in the nation were on display at the Hoophall Classic last weekend at Springfield College, including the top five seniors in the ESPN.com rankings, two of the two four juniors and the top two sophomores.
As one would expect, there was plenty of recruiting news emerging from the weekend.
Here are the Top 10 storylines you need to know about:
1-Seven undecided players in the McDonald’s All-American GameThe McDonald’s All-American teams came out on Sunday night, and seven of the 24 players in the game are uncommitted on college. That group includes Mohamed Bamba, Brian Bowen, Trevon Duval, M.J. Walker, Kevin Knox, Brandon McCoy and Trae Young. When those players convene in Chicago in late March, you can bet there will be some heavy recruiting going on for the players who still haven’t committed by then.
Speaking of the McDonald’s Game, both Alabama-bound shooting guard John Petty and Texas-bound point guard Matt Coleman felt they were snubbed for the game.
“It should’ve been me,” Coleman said. “I really think I should’ve been McDonald’s. Even my fellow guys like Mike [Porter], Mo [Bamba], Quade [Green], Trey Duval, they said they were having a protest, they were going to get Matt in this game. So hopefully they pull through with that.”
2. Mohamed Bamba cuts list, plans visits
At No. 4 on the ESPN.com rankings, the 6-foot-11 Bamba is the highest-ranked uncommitted player in the Class of 2017. The Harlem native made news this weekend when he said he had trimmed his list to four schools — Duke, Kentucky, Michigan and Texas — and announced visits to Kentucky (this weekend) and Duke (Feb. 26-28). There are also a slew of his fellow seniors trying to pull him in one direction or another, from Quade Green (Kentucky) to Wendell Carter (Duke) to Matt Coleman (Texas).
3. Trevon Duval planning visits
The 6-3 Duval is the No. 5 player in the ESPN rankings and remains the highest-ranked point guard on the market. With Matt Coleman committing to Texas on Monday, Duval would appear to be of even more importance for Duke, which doesn’t have a point guard in the Class of 2017 but could well have Frank Jackson back for his sophomore season. Duke is also reportedly looking at possibly having Class of 2018 point guard Darius Garland reclassify to 2017. Meantime, Duval is working with a list of Arizona, Baylor, Duke, Kansas and Seton Hall and said he will soon take visits.
4. Marvin Bagley III is not rushing the recruiting process
The 6-11 Bagley is the No. 1 prospect in the Class of 2018 and is projected by some as the No. 1 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. Bagley has a list of six schools — Arizona, Arizona State, Duke, Kentucky, Oregon and UCLA (Kentucky watched him at the Hoophall) — but said he’s in no rush to get through his decision.
“I really haven’t been putting time into recruiting yet but it’ll come,” he said.
5. Cam Reddish is special
The 6-8 junior ran the point for the Westtown (PA) School and as he fed the ball to Arizona-bound shooting guard Brandon Randolph and the uncommitted Mohamed Bamba, it wasn’t hard to envision him playing that position in the NBA. In a 66-54 win over Arizona-bound DeAndre Ayton and Hillcrest Prep (AZ), Reddish went for 22 points, six rebounds, four assists and four steals. Villanova, Kentucky, Duke, UConn and Syracuse are among the schools working the hardest.
6. Jontay Porter may reclassify to play with MichaelAs I reported on Monday, Jontay Porter, a 6-9 junior who is committed to Washington in the Class of 2018, is considering reclassifying and enrolling in 2017 in order to play alongside his brother, Michael Porter Jr., who could be in the mix for the No. 1 pick in 2018. There is a lot of heat on Washington coach Lorenzo Romar and adding both Porter brothers will help the Huskies in 2017-18, but it will also intensify the pressure on Romar to make his first NCAA Tournament since 2011.
7. Elite sophomore says Western Kentucky is his top schoolCharles Bassey, the 6-11 sophomore forward from St. Anthony (TX), is the No.-2 ranked prospect in the Class of 2019 behind Montverde Academy (FL) guard R.J. Barrett. He raised a few eyebrows on Saturday when he told us that Western Kentucky was currently his top school.
“I love WKU,” he said. “I love watching them and I love the way they play. Their coach [Rick Stansbury], he’s a good man and it’s a good team. I just love the school.”
Western Kentucky does have a McDonald’s All-American this year in Mitchell Robinson, and Stansbury had made positives strides on the recruiting front.
8. Brian Bowen closing in on decision
The 6-8 wing out of La Lumiere (IN) plans to take an unofficial visit to Michigan State on Jan. 29 for the Michigan game and then make his decision shortly thereafter. He’s also considering Arizona, Creighton, N.C. State and Texas and said various recruits were in his ear, including DeAndre Ayton (Arizona) and Matt Coleman (Texas).
“Once I take this unofficial visit to Michigan State at the end of the month, right after that is when I’ll be making my decision,” he said.
9. Eric Ayala weighing reclassifying to 2017
The 6-5 point guard has had to assume more of a leadership role at Putnam Science Academy (CT) now that Hamidou Diallo has departed to enroll early at Kentucky. Ayala looked impressive in notching 20 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists en route to MVP honors as Putnam held off Vermont Academy, 81-79, on Sunday.
Ayala has the option of reclassifying from 2018 to 2017, with Syracuse the main suitor in that regard, but he said he plans to wait to make that decision. Kansas, Arizona, Maryland, UConn, Louisville, Indiana, Texas and N.C. State are also among those recruiting him.
10. Jordan Walker shows out, may prep next year
On a team filled with five Division-1 bound seniors, Walker was the most impressive and important player for The Patrick School on Monday. The 5-9 point guard put up 15 points and 11 assists en route to game MVP honors in the Celtics’ double-OT 68-60 win over Wendell Carter and Pace Academy (GA).
Walker is listed in the Class of 2017 but told me he will “most likely” attend prep school and come out in 2018. Seton Hall, Indiana and LSU are among the schools involved.
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Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, 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.