The early signing period is less than two weeks away, but a bevy of questions remain regarding the nation’s elite. We know Jalen Green and Greg Brown will wait until the spring to sign, but what about Cade Cunningham and Bryce Thompson? In this week’s The Evans Seven, we take a deeper look at seven of the more intriguing but also difficult-to-read five-star recruitments.
Whenever Greg Brown cut his school list, the appearance of Kentucky on it raised eyebrows. Not many had an inkling that the Wildcats were involved, which is difficult in today’s age where Kentucky is constantly in the news. However, the Wildcats remain in catch-up mode with Texas, the local program that has invested more into the recruitment of Brown than anyone else. He has already taken an official visit to UT and will next be off to Auburn at the end of the month. The Tigers, like UK, are in catch-up mode, and North Carolina is just barely remaining in the race for the elite athlete. He will visit Memphis on Jan. 4, and then complete his official visit journey to Kentucky a week later. If all goes right in Austin this winter, the likelihood of Brown staying local for college is good. If not, Memphis might have the next best chance with one of the most entertaining prospects in America.
Finished with his official visits, all that is left for Nimari Burnett is a college commitment. Too bad that will not be made for at least another month. Despite getting an up-and-close look at his four finalists, Alabama, Michigan, Oregon and Texas Tech, Burnett’s intent is to now evaluate how the early portion of the college season treats each of the four. Sifting through what is real and what is not is what Burnett will be monitoring the next few weeks and it still remains difficult to select a favorite. It has been the flavor of the month, so it seems, where, at one point, Alabama had been thought to be the favorite, before then Oregon gained most of the talk, with now things residing on Texas Tech’s side. A commitment to any of the four would come as no surprise but figuring out who the real favorite is likely won’t become evident until his commitment day is at hand.
Chances are rather slim that Josh Christopher will sign early despite visiting each of his finalists, Arizona State, Michigan, Missouri and UCLA. ASU offers the chance to play alongside his brother, while at Missouri, his cousin is the strength coach, so somewhere along the way, he is going to have to say no to a family member. Juwan Howard prioritized Christopher the day that he received the Michigan job while UCLA has come on strong of late and was the most recent to complete an in-home visit with him. Attaining a general sense for which way that he might be leaning has been difficult. One moment, it looks as if he will suit up for Bobby Hurley, while the next, UCLA is being talked about as his college destination. With his recruitment far from over, expect for Christopher to monitor his college suitors throughout the majority of the college season ahead.
Will he sign early? Will he wait things out for another string of weeks? Will he keep his mysterious recruitment alive throughout the college season? That is the million-dollar question. Cade Cunningham is one of the few talents that can singlehandedly change the entire national title picture with where he attends college next season. We have never seen a situation like this where a prospect’s brother was hired as an assistant coach and a commitment did not immediately follow to that school, which makes one believe that his decision is not entirely tied to Cannen Cunningham’s employment at Oklahoma State. The Cowboys remain the team to beat, but if OSU is 1A, then Kentucky is 1B. Not many have given Florida a great chance, but the Gators are a legitimate suitor. North Carolina has fallen off some while Washington can offer something entirely different. No one can credibly say they know exactly where Cunningham will go to college, but there is a general feeling that he will commit by the end of the month with a decision maybe sooner than many presume.
No school list has been created by Jalen Green. Rather, the five-star guard has done things his own way, first taking a surprising unofficial visit to USC at the beginning of September, before plotting Auburn on his official visit list. The Tigers were nowhere to be found among the potential landing spots for Green this summer, which goes to show how difficult Green has been to read. Could the idea of playing alongside fellow five-star guard Sharife Cooper trump any of his other options? It is an intriguing avenue, just as Oregon is, but defeating Memphis may prove to be too difficult. The Tigers have already hosted Green twice in the official variety since last September and the relationship that he has built with Memphis’ coaching staff may be too much to overcome. A visit could be taken to Fresno State that would complete his visit trek prior to his Christmas Day decision.
The love shown towards Bryce Thompson throughout the recruiting process has not been in short supply. Taking the full allotment of junior year official visits and having seen a number of others in recent months, is it finally time for a college decision? My guess would be that he signs in two weeks with Kansas, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State having the best shot in the race. The desire to play at a basketball-first school is a factor which works in the favor for KU and UNC. However, recent allegations may have hurt the Jayhawks' chances while UNC taking two guards this fall could diminish its chances. Could Thompson be intrigued enough to potentially teaming up with Cade Cunningham at OSU? Does the idea of being the central figure of Lon Kruger’s offense at OU push his commitment towards the Sooners? Clarity has not been found within the Bryce Thompson recruitment, but at least we know that a signing should be made before the month is up.
Ask locals out west and their guess is North Carolina or USC for Ziaire Williams. That probably is true, for now, at least, but Arizona and Oregon could have enough time to make up the proper ground in the recruitment of the five-star. Stanford is not out of it, either, and there might not be a program that has recruited him with greater priority than the Cardinal. What it comes down to is whether Williams is willing to surpass Pac-12 powers and North Carolina for the academic prestige that Stanford boasts. Williams will visit Arizona and Oregon in the coming weeks and a signing this month is less than likely. Can the idea of playing alongside Evan Mobley be enough for Williams to choose the Trojans? Will distance be a factor, which would diminish UNC’s chances, or is the Heels’ pedigree too intriguing to decline? Questions continue to linger with when Williams will decide, if UNC and USC can hold off the pack of pursuers, or if Stanford can secure its greatest recruiting win in recent memory.