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May 17, 2018

Top 10 Highest Ranked NCAA Division 1 Men’s Basketball Recruits, 2018-19

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While 247Sports football recruiting ratings are very widely sourced and highly recognized, their basketball recruiting department is also extremely impressive. Even though they face some competition in this segment, mainly from Scout, 247sports is still the most renowned source for information on the best basketball recruits. Just as they do with football, 247Sports maintains a running, numbered list of the best recruits going to play in the NCAA next year. For top recruits, in particular, they closely follow their recruitment process. They track which schools they visit, which coach at each school is recruiting them, and using a proprietary algorithm; they calculate the probability that particular recruit has of going to the various schools they’ve shown interest in. Finally, like 247Sports does with football recruits, they use a unique algorithm to come up with a composite rating for each basketball recruit. With the 2017-18 NCAA DI basketball season ending with the Villanova Wildcats being crowned national champion, here are the Top 10 recruits on 247Sports’ list for next year’s 2018-19 season:

#10: Simisola Shittu (Composite Rating: 0.9964) – Vanderbilt Commodores, Signed

Starting off the Top 10 on 247Sports’ 2018 NCAA basketball recruiting list is a 6-foot-9 power forward from Canada, Simisola Shittu. His decision to play for the Commodores came as a surprise to many, as is most of Vanderbilt’s 2018-19 recruiting class. In addition to Shittu, the Commodores picked up the #13 overall ranked recruit on 247Sports’ list, point guard Darius Garland. After a very disappointing 2017-18 season, where Vanderbilt finished with a 12-20 overall record, the Commodores attacked the 2018-19 recruiting class with a sense of urgency. It’s been pegged by numerous highly-respected college basketball recruiting experts as “Vanderbilt’s best signing class of the modern era” (Sparks, USA Today). However, for Shittu and the Commodores, the excitement about the prospects of the upcoming season took an abrupt turn at the end of January 2018, when Shittu suffered a torn ACL (Daniels, 247Sports). Fortunately, that didn’t seem to phase Vanderbilt’s head coach Bryce Drew much, if at all. Shortly after hearing about Shittu’s injury, Drew said, “We estimate before the season he will be ready. Is ready 100 percent, 90 percent, 85 [percent]? We’ll have to wait and see. Getting [the surgery] done now, hopefully by the end of July, he’s going to be [rehabbing] here and everything” (Sparks, USA Today). While Shittu’s injury might initially temporarily restrict his playing time at Vanderbilt, he and Garland are expected to be major contributors to what the Commodores hope will be a turnaround 2018-19 season.

#9: E.J. Montgomery (Composite Rating: 0.9967) – Kentucky Wildcats, Committed

Announcing his school of choice via Instagram, #9 on 247Sports’ recruiting list is a 6-foot-10 power forward E.J. Montgomery. Joining already signed Keldon Johnson, the #11 recruit on 247Sports’ 2018-19 basketball recruiting list, Montgomery will head to the Kentucky Wildcats with their high-profile head coach John Calipari. Montgomery and Johnson top off a star-studded Wildcats recruiting class, who already has four five-star commitments, currently tied with the Duke Blue Devils for the most in NCAA DI men’s basketball (Borzello, ESPN). Montgomery had initially committed to Auburn but de-committed the day the FBI investigation into Auburn went public in September 2017 (Staples, Sports Illustrated). Averaging 14.1 points and 11.0 rebounds for the Atlanta Celtics in the Adidas Gauntlet spring and summer circuit, Montgomery has impressed scouts across the country with his agility and overall versatility (Borzello, ESPN). Considering his size, it’s especially impressive Montgomery has proven he can do it all from scoring points to rebounding and playing tough defense. After a Sweet Sixteen loss to Kansas State and an overall record of 26-11 for the 2017-18 season, Calipari will surely have the Wildcats hungry to get back to the top of NCAA DI men’s basketball, and the addition of Montgomery certainly won’t hurt their chances.

#8: Quentin Grimes (Composite Rating: 0.9970) – Kansas Jayhawks, Signed

The next men’s basketball recruit on 247Sports’ list at #8 is Quentin Grimes, a 6-foot-5 combo guard from College Park High School in Texas. In his senior high school season, Grimes averaged 29.5 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 4.9 assists per game (Unnamed Writer, USA Basketball). In addition to his impressive stats, Grimes lead his team to an appearance in Texas University Interscholastic League area finals. His overall performance in his senior year at College Park led to him being named a McDonald’s All-American, as well as the Gatorade State Player of the Year (Unnamed Writer, USA Basketball). When asked about his decision to sign with the Jayhawks, who finished the 2017-18 season with a 31-8 overall record en route to a Final Four appearance, Grimes seemed to attribute it to the coaching staff. In response to a question about his commitment, Grimes said, “Just coach Self. He was probably recruiting me the hardest of all of the coaches on my list. Making sure how I was doing, and it was a genuine relationship. It was kind of a perfect fit” (Unnamed Writer, USA Basketball). His explanation is entirely understandable; Kansas Jayhawks head coach, Bill Self, has had an incredible career at Kansas, which includes a national championship with the team in the 2007-08 season. Self-has also groomed numerous players at Kansas who went onto has successful careers in the NBA, perhaps most notably current Sixers star center, Joel Embiid.

#7: Anfernee Simons (Composite Rating 0.9970) – Uncommitted, Interested in 28 Schools

The #7 highest ranked recruit on 247Sports’ basketball recruiting list is Anfernee Simons, a 6-foot-4 combo guard who is yet to commit to any school for the upcoming season. It goes to show the level of detail, and research 247Sports puts into their recruiting lists; according to their expert staff, 28 schools have a shot to land Simons. The Florida Gators are currently in the lead with a 33% chance, followed by the Memphis Tigers at 28%, and the Tennessee Volunteers at 22% (247Sports.com). It’s worth noting Simons has stated his intention to enter the 2018 NBA Draft very clearly, through a loophole, since he took a gap year after graduating from Edgewater High School in Orlando, spent a post-grad year at IMG Academy, and he’ll be 19 by the time of the NBA Draft (O’Donnell, SB Nation). In an interview with SB Nation, Simons said, “After discussing the matter with my parents, I have decided to forego the opportunity to play in the NCAA and to enter the NBA Draft instead. I am very thankful for the support I received at IMG Academy and from the NCAA coaches who recruited me. I am ready and excited to pursue my dream of playing in the NBA” (O’Donnell, SB Nation). However, Simons is known to be indecisive; he had previously made a firm commitment to the University of Louisville. Also while there are reports that Simons has received interest from many NBA teams who sent scouts to watch him play, it’s still not a certainty, by any means that Simons will get drafted (Schmitz, ESPN). While he’s a great player with the apparent reason he’s the #7 recruit on 247Sports’ list, NBA scouts in the same report have bluntly stated Simons’ weakness: he needs to get a lot stronger (Schmitz, ESPN). Simons is also a big-time late bloomer; he barely got off the bench during his 2015-16 high school season at Montverde Academy before transferring, again, this time to Edgewater. In his final season he averaged an impressive 23.8 points per game, his shooting and dribbling abilities are noted as his strengths, but the weakness of his physical strength can only be developed through time and hard work. Don’t be surprised if Simons changes his mind again and winds up signing with a national title-contending team, a historically smart decision for players looking to succeed in the NBA.

#6: Romeo Langford (Composite Rating 0.9984) – Uncommitted, Interested in 14 Schools

Romeo Langford is the #6 recruit on 247Sports’ list and the highest on their list who is yet to commit to a school for the 2018-19 season. Unlike Simons, Langford has no intention of bypassing college to enter the NBA Draft. According to the vast majority of recent reports, as well as being the top favorite of 247Sports with a 75% probability of landing Langford according to their algorithm, the Indiana University Hoosiers seem to be the most likely landing spot. Tied for second at 12% each are the Kansas Jayhawks and Vanderbilt Commodores (247Sports.com). His announcement is scheduled to be made April 30th at 7:00 PM in the New Albany High School gym, the high school in Indiana Langford attended. Though the expectation is Langford will sign with the in-state Indiana Hoosiers, there have been rumors of Bill Self from Kansas personally making a final, last-minute push to get Langford on the Jayhawks (Schumann, The Daily Hoosier). In his senior season at New Albany Langford can best be described as dominant. He averaged 35.5 points, 9.9 rebounds, and 3.7 assists per game, along with 3.0 steals per game (MaxPreps.com). According to his high school coach, Jim Shannon, who’s won over 500 games in his head coaching career and a national championship in 2016 with Langford, Romeo showed impressive basketball abilities from an early age. When asked in an interview when he began to get an idea of Langford’s future basketball potential, Shannon said, “I would say in seventh grade. No doubt in seventh grade I thought he was going to be special. In eighth grade, 100 percent I thought he was going to be off the charts. I didn’t know that he was going be like top five in the nation in his class but certainly knew that he was Division I, no question, and an Indiana All-Star, no question” (Bozich, Inside The Hall). After finishing the 2017-18 season with a mediocre 18-16 overall record, a losing 7-11 Big Ten Conference record, and no other prospective recruits inside the top ten of 247Sports’ recruiting list, the Hoosiers will undoubtedly be anxiously waiting for Langford to formalize his commitment to Indiana for the 2018-19 season on April 30th.

#5: Zion Williamson (Composite Rating 0.9986) – Duke Blue Devils, Signed

Zion Williamson, a 6-foot-6, 270-pound small forward is the #5 recruit on 247Sports’ 2018-19 basketball list. Although Zion surprised many, including his stepfather, by signing with the Duke Blue Devils over the in-state Clemson Tigers, Williamson will be accompanied to Duke with some of the best recruits in the country. Coming out of Spartanburg Day School in South Carolina, the Clemson University Tigers, also located in South Carolina, appeared to be the favorite for the majority of the Zion’s recruiting process. In the words of his stepfather, Clemson had lost a “mile-and-a-half lead” when Williamson signed with Duke (Connolly, The State). Though Williamson became known across the country by basketball fans and college basketball scouts from his sensational dunking videos, many have also touted him as one of the best basketball recruits to ever come out of South Carolina (Connolly, The State). In his senior year at Spartanburg Day School, Williamson averaged 36.4 points, 11.4 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 3.4 steals, and 2.3 blocks per game (MaxPreps.com). Given that he’s apparently a true all-around player who dominated high school basketball in his state and is ranked inside the top five of 247Sports’ basketball recruiting list for his class year, it’s unusual that Williamson wouldn’t be close to the most hyped recruit for the school he’s going to in the upcoming season.

#4: Bol Bol (Composite Rating 0.9989) – Oregon Ducks, Signed

The #4 player on 247Sports’ 2018-19 basketball recruiting list is South Sudanese-born, 7-foot-3 center Bol Bol, who played high school basketball at Findlay Prep in Nevada. The son of Manute Bol, who was “one of the most likable players in NBA history according to the New York Times, Bol Bol’s NBA future is already set in stone according to multiple NBA scouts. Moreover, those same sources are reported to predict Bol Bol will go somewhere between No. 2 and No. 4 in the 2019 NBA Draft, even with the 2018 NBA Draft being about two months away (Mather, New York Times). While reports seem to indicate selecting the Oregon Ducks as his school of choice was mainly to meet the NBA’s one-year post-high school eligibility criteria, Bol Bol does not seem to be taking his college basketball at Oregon as a formality. When four-star power forward, and the nation’s No. 33 best overall recruit according to 247Sports, Shareef O’Neal de-committed from the University of Arizona due to the FBI’s investigation into their basketball program, Bol Bol took to Twitter to try to sway O’Neal to join him on the Oregon Ducks (Nemec, Oregon Live). In his senior year at Findlay Prep, Bol Bol averaged 20.4 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks per game (MaxPreps.com). While those stats may not seem as impressive as others ranked high on 247Sports’ basketball recruiting list, Bol Bol faced significantly tougher competition at Findlay Prep. Given his size and athletic ability (Bol Bol is reported to have been dunking since the 6th grade), it’s clear why scouts believe he’s easily the most prepared player to enter the NBA of those in the 2018-19 recruiting class.

#3: Nassir Little (Composite Rating 0.9992) – North Carolina Tar Heels, Signed

Nassir Little, the MVP of the McDonald’s All-American Game and the Jordan Brand Classic, is #3 on 247Sports’ top list of basketball recruits for next season. Little, like Shareef O’Neal, was a lock to head to the University of Arizona before the FBI’s investigation into their program was made public (Brigham, Basketball Insiders). He is considered by many NBA scouts to be a “one-and-done” prospect, like Bol Bol, with some scouts and recruiting experts suggesting he has the potential to be a top-five NBA draft pick (Bondurant, Tar Heel Blog). Little doesn’t appear to be looking that far ahead, as he spoke about how difficult the final decision in his college recruiting process was to make. In an interview after his MVP performance in the McDonald’s All-American game, Little said, “Making that decision is stressful and strenuous. People keep telling you; this is the most important decision that you’re going to make in your life, at least up to this point. The school you choose can alter your career. It can either make a guy fall off if you don’t pick the right one, or you could end looking like one of the top players in the country if you choose right” (Brigham, Basketball Insiders). Not only do his thoughts about the college recruitment process show he’s serious about helping further UNC’s already historic men’s basketball program, but it shows he’s intelligent and aware of the weight of the decision he was making. It remains to be seen how long Little will stay at UNC, but with the Tar Heels’ arch-rival Duke having a remarkably impressive recruiting year, Little will have to impress NBA scouts in tough ACC games to live up to his potential future NBA hype.

#2: Cameron Reddish (Composite Rating 0.9993) – Duke Blue Devils, Signed

247Sports’ #2 men’s basketball recruit for the 2018-19 season is Cameron Reddish, a versatile 6-foot-7 player from Westtown School in West Chester, PA. The interesting thing about Reddish is he’s listed as a small forward but spent more time playing point guard than any other position. While he may have the height, he’s only 210 pounds, so he’s not big enough to play a more physical position, as a power forward. As one college basketball recruiting expert interestingly put it, “Reddish illustrates a fascinating paradox: He belongs to no position and every position” (Johnson, Sports Illustrated). Reddish career has shown him to be a better point guard than playing any other position. This was demonstrated when Reddish was put in as the starting point guard for Team USA in the FIBA U19 World Cup by Kentucky’s head coach John Calipari, even though there were several other “official” point guards listed on the roster (Johnson, Sports Illustrated). Reddish has great ball-handling and passing skills, as well as the ability to score points. In the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League, in his final season, Reddish averaged 22.6 points per game, including a 53-point performance in a win for Westtown against Holy Spirit (King, Bleacher Report). The prospect of a 6-foot-7 point guard with superb ball-handling ability, a great vision for narrow passing windows, and the ability to score 53 points in a game, is certainly heavily intriguing to NBA scouts. If you don’t believe them, maybe NBA superstar Kevin Durant’s take would persuade you. Durant described Reddish athleticism as “off the charts” and went on to add, “I like this kid, man. He’s going to be a star” (Johnson, Sports Illustrated). For now, Reddish seems focused on backing up those who believe in him in competitive ACC play. For those who know Duke’s head coach, Mike Krzyzewski, he’s known as someone who makes a big statement without using many words. Krzyzewski, who will coach Reddish in the upcoming season, said of the future Blue Devil, “Cameron Reddish is just a beautiful basketball player” (O’Donnell, SB Nation). Amazingly, Reddish is not the top recruit on 247Sports’ list for the 2018-19 season, nor is he the top recruit headed to the Duke Blue Devils next season.

#1:  R.J. Barrett (Composite Rating 1.0000) – Duke Blue Devils, Signed

Although we spoiled the surprise, the #1 recruit on 247Sports’ list of 2018-19 NCAA basketball recruits is future Duke Blue Devil, R.J. Barrett. With a perfect rating from 247Sports’ composite rating system, the 6-foot-7 shooting guard from Montverde Academy in Florida had one of the most illustrious high school basketball careers in recent history. Barrett capped off his senior year as a National Champion, winning nearly every major player of the year award (Rowe, 247Sports). In his final game as a high school player, in the Canadian All-Star Game Barrett dropped 47 points, with several highlight-reel worthy dunks in the process (King, Duke Basketball Report). Initially being unanimously ranked as the top recruit by all basketball scouting websites for the 2019-20 NCAA basketball season, Barrett reclassified to the 2018-19 class. Once Marvin Bagley III, who also chose the Duke Blue Devils as his school of choice, reclassified to the 2017-18 recruiting class, Barrett was again unanimously ranked as the nation’s top men’s basketball recruit in his class year (“Slam Staff,” Slam Online). According to ESPN, in addition to Duke, Barrett received scholarship offers from almost all major universities including Arizona, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, USC, UCLA, and more. Like many top recruits who ultimately choose Duke, for Barrett, it had a lot to do with “Coach K.” When describing his decision, Barrett said, “It [Duke University] feels like home. And they have a great coach…I love Coach K [Mike Krzyzewski]. I’ve been watching Duke since I was young” (King, Duke Basketball Report). Some of the awards the #1 rated recruit by 247Sports, Scout, Rivals, and ESPN earned during his high school basketball playing days included the Gatorade National Player of the Year, Naismith Prep Player of the Year, FIBA U19 World Cup MVP, and the Morgan Wooten National Player of the Year – an award for “displaying outstanding character, showing leadership and embodying the values of a student-athlete” (“GlobeNewswire”, Yahoo Sports). For someone of Barrett’s pedigree, this might be obvious, but he was also named a McDonald’s All-American in his senior year. Barrett excels in all aspects of basketball; he’s a great scorer, he has excellent passing abilities, he can grab a lot of rebounds, etc. But what seems to set him apart, at least at the high school basketball level, is he seems to play his best in big games, and he’s a winner. He led Montverde to an undefeated season, and in the Geico National boys basketball championship, Barrett scored 25 points and had 15 rebounds (Stephens, MaxPreps.com). In the 2018 Nike Hoop Summit, Barrett scored a game-high 20 points, which was in addition to 9 rebounds, six assists, and five steals, earning him the game’s MVP award (Unnamed Writer, Canada Basketball Online). Perhaps the most noteworthy performance of Barrett’s career came in July 2017. Barrett, a Canadian national, had 38 points, 13 rebounds, and five assists in Canada’s FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup semifinal win against the United States (Unnamed Writer, FIBA Basketball). As a final fun fact, R.J. Barrett is the godson of former Canadian basketball superstar Steve Nash (Dichter, CBC Sports).

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