College basketball recruiting: Five top storylines as final live evaluation period comes to an end


The ultimate days of the final reside analysis interval of the 2022 recruiting calendar are formally upon us. Starting Wednesday and working by way of Sunday, faculty coaches and scouts get one last formal take a look at gamers throughout a number of venues nationwide earlier than the quiet interval offers approach to the lifeless interval. 

That is the final time for coaches to see recruits in particular person earlier than buckling in for preseason planning with their respective groups on campus and usually, because the mud settles on the reside interval, we see a lot of adjustments in recruiting rankings and commitments.

As Peach Jam, the marquee recruiting occasion of the calendar yr, wraps up within the closing days to mark the tip of the reside interval, there are a number of storylines to observe with the quiet interval quick approaching and a brand new portion of the recruiting calendar in our sights. 

Beneath are 5 storylines to look at as we shift slowly into a brand new part of that schedule.

1. Will No. 1 recruit GG Jackson reclassify?

The sentiment in recruiting circles is that it is a matter of when, not if, GG Jackson — the No. 1 recruit within the 2023 class in accordance with 247Sports — will reclassify to play faculty basketball this season. The one query left remaining is which faculty will profit.

The previous UNC commit decommitted from the Tar Heels a week ago, and all indicators level to him staying within the state and signing with South Carolina. His Crystal Ball at 247Sports is Gamecocks-heavy, with 9 of the final predictions all rolling in for South Carolina.

It will not be the primary time the No. 1 recruit reclassifies if certainly Jackson does as anticipated — only a yr in the past, Jalen Duren did the identical, and went on to change into a lottery decide — nevertheless it’s nonetheless a major (and sure imminent) determination that can have a profound influence on the rankings, the 2022-23 faculty basketball season and really probably the 2023 NBA Draft as effectively.

2. … if GG reclassifies, who’s new No. 1?

If the present No. 1 strikes to the 2022 recruiting class and enrolls at a college for subsequent season, the apparent curiosity then turns to the prospect who will take his place. And proper now there is not any clear reply to who that participant can be.

5-star guard DJ Wagner can be my decide as the favourite. He is No. 1 within the Composite rankings, No. 2 within the  247Sports rankings and has been at that place for effectively over a yr. It is very doable he’d get a pure bump. 

That is not a no brainer, although. Wing prospect Justin Edwards has been one of many fastest-rising skills within the class in latest months and simply has a case to be No. 1. Similar for five-star G League-bound star Matas Buzelis, who has the bodily instruments and body to be a mover into the highest 5. The brand new No. 1 doubtless comes all the way down to a type of few, and it might come as quickly as Jackson reclassifies along with his determination anticipated within the subsequent few days. 

3. Kentucky, Louisville slug it out for DJ Wagner

The Bluegrass State battle shaping as much as land DJ Wagner — who very effectively might wind up because the No. 1 participant in his class with Jackson’s reclassification — continues to be the storyline of the summer time in faculty hoops recruiting. Will it’s Louisville, or will it’s Kentucky?

Louisville has emerged as a serious contender after hiring his grandfather Milt Wagner as Director of Participant Improvement, successfully bringing again considered one of its most distinguished alums with the thought of attempting to lure in considered one of its most distinguished recruiting targets.

Kentucky, although, has for a very long time been thought of the frontrunner, although Louisville’s emergence has thrown a cloud of uncertainty over that. John Calipari coached DJ’s father, Dajuan, whereas he was at Memphis, and Calipari turned him right into a first-round NBA Draft decide. There’s a strong-to-quite-strong familial connection between Calipari and the Wagner household that should not be dismissed even with Milt’s hiring at rival Louisville. This is what Kyle Tucker, who covers Kentucky for The Athletic, said of this race recently:

With Wagner, there’s additionally the Milt Issue. Usually, whenever you rent an in depth relative, you get the recruit. That is a close to one hundred pc success fee, traditionally. It stands to motive then that almost all nationwide recruiting analysts handicapping Wagner’s recruitment moved Louisville in entrance of longtime chief Kentucky quickly after Payne employed Milt Wagner. However behind the scenes, Calipari by no means wavered in his confidence that the Cats would finally signal Wagner. In any case, Calipari coached his father, Dajuan, at Memphis. After which added Wagner’s stepbrother, Kareem Watkins, as a walk-on at Kentucky. Ware, Wagner’s former teammate at Camden, can also be in Lexington. And Bradshaw would possibly quickly be too.

That is a variety of connections to beat the one at Louisville that has gotten a lot consideration. Calipari, recent off a visit to Spain to look at Wagner win gold with USA Basketball on the U17 FIBA World Cup, stays assured he’ll win this battle towards his former understudy. And now all of these nationwide recruiting analysts are starting to again off their Louisville predictions for Wagner.

Nothing feels sure at this level for Wagner, however the Kentucky-Louisville on-court rivalry is about as heated as I’ve seen it off the court docket as each bluebloods battle for Wagner. The winner will get a possible No. 1 decide expertise who can change the fortunes of whichever program he selects.

4. Can Kentucky edge Duke for No. 1 class?

John Calipari locked up No. 1-ranked courses at Kentucky in every of his first 5 seasons however has finished so simply as soon as — in 2020 — since then as Duke has emerged as a gradual menace. Might UK get again to the summit in a head-to-head with new coach Jon Scheyer?

It could not do it in 2022 — Scheyer secured the highest class in his first pull — however the winds of change could also be blowing. Kentucky is the Crystal Ball favourite for top-three prospects DJ Wagner and Justin Edwards in addition to four-star top-30 prospects Aaron Bradshaw and Ugonna Kingsley Onyenso. It additionally has commitments from five-star Robert Dillingham and four-star, top-30 expertise Reed Shephard. 

Duke’s class just isn’t going to be a simple one to topple, although. At the moment No. 1 within the rankings, it has commitments from three five-star prospects — Mackenzie Mgbako, Sean Stewart and Caleb Foster — in addition to four-star prospect Jared McCain. It would not be a shock if Duke wound up a significant component for Xavier Booker as effectively.

In the previous few years Kentucky has combined a wholesome quantity of transfers and upperclassmen with blue-chip recruits in a method that has largely moved UK out of the No. 1 class combine, however 2023 is shaping as much as doubtlessly get the ‘Cats again on the map as a real drive, particularly if the race for Wagner winds up main him to UK.  

5. Bronny James transferring up rankings

The son (and namesake) of the GOAT, LeBron James, Bronny stays probably the most attention-grabbing long-term prospects within the 2023 class. A former five-star recruit, he has slipped into four-star standing in latest months, however which will have solely been a short lived keep. At Peach Jam, he is apparently finished effectively for himself enjoying for Try For Greatness by enjoying with a extra assertive mindset and attacking.

“I feel he’s a candidate to maneuver up the rankings,” 247Sports Director of Scouting Adam Finkelstein mentioned Tuesday. “He was assertive and aggressive as I’ve seen him. He went for 28 factors and 6 assists. Traditionally he has been content material to play throughout the circulation of the offense, however he is been actually assertive as his group’s main playmaker … If he can proceed to try this with effectivity I feel he’s going to be a serious riser within the class.”

James’ basketball smarts and IQ — in no shock — has all the time been considered one of his strengths, and that has confirmed up specifically on protection the place he is ready to use anticipation and skim opposing gamers at a excessive degree. At No. 52 within the 247Sports rankings and No. 46 within the 247Sports Composite rankings, he could also be in line to see a pleasant little bump after this month.

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