Nation's Top Programs Reload Rosters on National Signing Day
With national signing day being this past week, college basketball recruiting is in full swing and the top teams are showing out as expected. Many of the most sought after prospects are announcing their commitment and/or signing their national letters of intent.
UCLA has the most recent five-star commit in Kris Wilkes. Wilkes is a 6’8 195 lb. small forward ranked 18th in the 2017 recruiting class. He plays with an almost nonchalant demeanor but don’t let this calmness fool you, Wilkes is an exceptional athlete. He’s a crafty finisher, which fits his slashing play style and also possesses great vision and passing ability. Both of which give him point-forward ability. Wilkes joins three fellow top 100 recruits to give UCLA the top recruiting class in the nation.
Arizona ranks 2nd in the nation for their recruiting class, which is headlined by #1 ranked DeAndre Ayton. Ayton is 7’0 235 lbs. of everything a coach could want out of a center. His exceptional footwork and athleticism allow him to be a dominant post player that plays well above the rim. Add in his length and high motor and you have a top tier shot blocker that gets up and down the floor with ease. Not to mention he has a beautiful jumper that allows him to step out to 15-18 feet and knock down shots consistently. He is simply dominant.
Rounding out the top three recruiting classes in the nation is Washington. The Huskies managed to pull in the #2 ranked player, 6’10 210 lb. wing player Michael Porter, which gives them back-to-back years of signing a top five player in their respective class. Porter can do just about anything on the offensive end of the floor and is probably the best scorer in the 2017 class. His height and high release makes his shot virtually impossible to contest and he has range far behind the three-point arc. Not to mention he’s a freak athlete and possesses guard-like top speed. Look for the Huskies to rely on him for a lot of scoring next season.
Since John Calipari became head coach in 2009, the Kentucky Wildcats have had one of the top recruiting classes each season and this upcoming year is no exception. This recruiting season they’ve received pledges from Nick Richards and PJ Washington ranked 14th and 15th in the nation respectively. Richards is a 6’11 235 lb. back-to-the-basket center. He has great length and is a tenacious rebounder. In addition, he’s a strong finisher under the basket, runs the floor well and should be a defensive anchor for the Wildcats in his college career. Washington, on the other hand, is the definition of a stretch four. He’s an exceptional athlete that can consistently hit mid-range and outside jump shots. Like Richards, he too is a tough finisher at the hoop and can provide rim protection. The Wildcats will be reloaded again in 2017 as expected.
Finally, I couldn’t talk about college basketball without mentioning my alma mater, VCU. The Rams have assembled the top recruiting class in school history ranked at 23rd in the nation, which features #98 Lavar Batts and Mayan Kiir. Batts is a 6’2 160 lb. point guard and Kiir, to contrast, is a 6’9 220 lb. forward. Batts is a crafty finisher at the rim and scores exceptionally well with his left hand even though he’s right-handed. He also looks as if he was shot out of a cannon when he’s in the open floor and will be a perfect fit for VCU’s up-tempo style of play. Kiir is a great shot blocker and possesses pretty good ball skills for a big man. He excels on the fast break and his raw athleticism has drawn comparisons to former VCU and NBA player, Larry Sanders. These two along with VCU’s other two signees project a bright future for the Rams.
Let College Basketball season begin.
*Class and player rankings courtesy of 247sports.com