College Basketball Recruiting: Top 8 Players Yet to Decide and Where They'll Go
Jabari Parker's recruitment as the No. 1 college basketball recruit has been a topic of conversation for months, but he isn't the only hot commodity in the Class of 2013. Recruiting nerds like myself have eight players on our radars whose commitments will rock the college basketball world.
Since the Class of 2013's recruitment has picked up, these players have been constantly monitored. Their recruiting processes have been going on for years, and some of them may be nearing a decision.
As these players begin to commit to their respective schools, let's take a look at where each player will likely end up.
8. Jermaine Lawrence
Weight: 190 pounds
Considering: Cincinnati, Kansas, Kentucky, St. John's, Syracuse, UCLA, UNLV
Jermaine Lawrence is a lanky power forward with freakish athleticism. The kid runs the floor extremely well and can elevate to throw down some incredible dunks, as seen in this video.
Lawrence has the option to either improve his already-solid jumper and become a combo forward or to add a lot of weight and play in the paint. Luckily for him he has the tools to be successful in either role.
Lawrence tweeted his final seven on August 27, but in the last three months has not told us much more.
MyFinal Top 7 in no specific orderCincinnati, Kansas, Kentucky,StJohns, Syracuse, UCLA, UNLV— Jermaine Lawrence (@mainestory) August 26, 2012
It was considered a surprise that Kentucky was included in his top seven, and after Marcus Lee committed to UK it will be surprising to see Lawrence head to Lexington without the guarantee that he will be starting.
In June, Lawrence told CBSSports.com that his top three schools were Syracuse, Rutgers and Florida, but that was before his final seven came out, and 'Cuse was the only one of the three to make the final cut.
It makes sense that the Orange were on both lists, after it was revealed that the team is going "pretty hard" after the power forward. They're the only consistency we've seen between his two lists, and I expect Lawrence to be playing in the Carrier Dome in the 2013-14 season.
7. Isaac Hamilton
Weight: 185 pounds
Considering: Baylor, San Diego State, UNLV, UTEP, Washington
Isaac Hamilton is a great asset to have on the offensive end. He is excellent when it comes to penetrating the lane, and once inside he can either finish around defenders or kick it out to an open teammate.
While he doesn't have the smooth jumper with great range of the prototypical shooting guard, he has a streaky jumper that, when it's falling, makes it nearly impossible to stop him.
Hamilton has had his final list hanging over him for nearly a month-and-a-half, and he made it clear that he wants to stay out west.
With Jamaal Franklin likely leaving for the NBA a year early, Hamilton would be a starter from day one. After seeing the development of Franklin and knowing that he will get the same treatment has to be a plus for Hamilton, and I think that will seal the deal for the Aztecs.
Prediction: San Diego State
6. Austin Nichols
Weight: 200 pounds
Considering: Virginia, Vanderbilt, Duke, Tennessee, Memphis, Auburn
Austin Nichols isn't exactly an imposing presence in the paint at 6'8" and 200 pounds, but he is working to gain size, just like a lot of developing big men his age.
However, he has the athleticism and explosiveness to be an elite player in a year or two. He can play well on both ends of the floor, and if he continues to grow he will be a threat inside.
Nichols is a hometown kid, and I'd be shocked to see him go far from home. Even the furthest schools on his list aren't too far from his Tennessee home.
When he was part of the USA Basketball U18 team he decided to withdraw due to homesickness, which shows that he must be close with his family. He confirmed this when he told Inside Carolina's Alex Schwartz that staying close to home was important to him.
They’re there when I need somebody to talk to; I can go talk to them. If I decide to stay close to home I could talk to them pretty much every day.
Naturally the schools in his home state of Tennessee will have a big advantage because of this, making Vanderbilt, Memphis and Tennessee the front-runners for his services.
However, I'll go one step further and say that another big factor is the fact that his twin sister is a freshman at Tennessee this year, and he will likely want to be close to her as well.
Evan Daniels was the one who broke Nichols' final list (via Scout.com), and he got a great quote from Nichols about his feelings toward UT.
I picked Tennessee on this list. I went up there for a few unofficial football games and the fans were great. The fan support was there. The coaching staff is great.
If being close to home is important in this decision (and it obviously is), then UT is the place for Nichols.
5. Jarrell Martin
Weight: 210 pounds
Considering: Alabama, Louisville, LSU, Oklahoma State, St. John's, Texas A&M, UCLA
Jarrell Martin is the biggest mystery in the Class of 2013. He is clearly a great athlete with an emerging game, but there are a lot of question surrounding him.
Why didn't he play high school ball until his junior year? Can he develop the skills he needs to succeed at the next level in such a short amount of time? Will he be a star or a bust?
Another question comes when looking at his recruitment: When will he start his visits to different schools? As of now he is not able to visit any schools until he takes a standardized test, which won't happen until at least October 27.
Martin has a high ceiling thanks to his natural abilities, and if he can pair himself with a great coach, he should develop into a great big man.
That great coach may be Louisville's Rick Pitino. Martin has already been visited by a member of the Louisville coaching staff, although it was not Pitino. However, the entire coaching staff at UL can develop players nicely, and that has to appeal to this rough-around-the-edges prospect.
4. Noah Vonleh
Weight: 220 pounds
Considering: Indiana, Ohio State, Georgetown, Syracuse, UConn and North Carolina
Noah Vonleh is a young player compared to the rest in the Class of 2013. He reclassified to enter college a year early, and he has the skill to do so in impressive fashion.
Vonleh is a long, athletic forward who can play well inside or facing up, and he will be a stud at the next level.
Being a new member in the Class of 2013 naturally meant that his recruitment picked up substantially, and he recently trimmed his list down to six schools.
Despite being so new to the recruiting game, Vonleh has already made great strides by cutting his list down. However, it's still next to impossible to know where he's leaning after so short a time of being courted.
However, new UConn coach Kevin Ollie appears to be making a good pitch, as Vonleh's high school coach told ESPN.
Kevin Ollie’s a very dynamic person and coach, and he’s done a good job relating to Noah and everyone in his corner believes they’ll do a great job. As a local school, if Noah decides to not go away far from home, Noah thinks they would be a great choice.
Not only is Ollie doing a great job of keeping Vonleh interested, but he gives him the option to stay in New England.
It's still early and a lot could change between now and the spring (when Vonleh's decision is expected to come), but Ollie looks like the man to beat. Vonleh would be a huge pickup for the new UConn coach.
3. Aaron Gordon
Weight: 210 pounds
Considering: Oregon, Washington, Kansas, Arizona, California, Kentucky, New Mexico, Stanford
Aaron Gordon is a freakishly athletic combo forward with an explosive game. He has all the natural abilities to be a star, and he has found a way to build his game around those skills.
Gordon has an incredibly high ceiling because of his athleticism. This video provides a good look at his playmaking abilities, and what's more impressive is that he's only 15 in this video.
Gordon's recruitment is obviously an important once, since he has the potential to make any program a national contender.
Cal is trying to nab the 5-star power forward, and having fellow Class of 2013 recruit Jabari Bird trying to team up with Gordon certainly helps. Once Bird committed to Cal, he talked about bringing Marcus Lee and Gordon with him.
For the most part, both Marcus [Lee] and Aaron [Gordon] liked the visit a lot. I'm just trying to build on that with them, so I can convince them to come to school with me.
The pitch didn't work out with Lee, who committed to Kentucky, making it crucial that Bird lands Gordon. However, Cal appears to be falling behind in the race.
Gordon considered Washington, Arizona and Kentucky to be "very close to" his top three, and many are thinking that his decision will come down to those programs. Gordon then planned officials to five schools, with each of those three being on the list.
If coaching is the deciding factor it will be touch for Gordon to put one over another.
Washington’s a really good school, I love Romar. I also like [Kentucky coach John] Calipari a lot. I like Sean Miller.
It's tough to bet against Calipari and Kentucky, but on this one I'm going to have to do it. Gordon seems drawn to Washington, and I expect him to be a Husky next season.
2. Julius Randle
Weight: 225 pounds
Considering: Kentucky, N.C. State, Florida, Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma
Julius Randle is a do-it-all power forward who is the best big man in the Class of 2013. He has an explosive game that helps him with his back to the basket or when he faces up, and he is dangerous in either situation.
With incredible shot-blocking skills on defense he is a force in the paint, and the ability to go for 20-plus points on any given night, he will be a stud in college for his only season before departing for the NBA.
Julius Randle is the most sought-after big man in high school basketball today, but his decision looks like it is coming down to two schools: North Carolina State and Kentucky.
Mark Gottfried had an in-home visit with Randle that went very well (per USA Today), saying “Coach Gottfried is a guy you can’t help but to feel comfortable with."
That apparently has worked recently, as NC State is consistently among the top recruiting classes in the country. Randle described the program as one "that’s on the come up.”
That's an understatement.
The Wolfpack is ranked among the top five schools in the country for the upcoming season, and seeing the team succeed could drive Randle to wearing the red of North Carolina State.
However, you can never count Coach Cal out.
Kentucky's fearless leader on the recruiting trail already has one of the best classes in history with his Class of 2013 bunch, and adding Randle would make the team a favorite to go undefeated in the 2013-14 season.
Randle knows that he would enjoy success at both programs, yet there was speculation that he had a rift with the Harrison twins, who already committed to Kentucky. However, he cleared that up nicely on his blog on USA Today.
I’ve got the utmost respect for those guys and their games and we’re actually cool with each other. Every time I see them, we talk and hang out so I don’t know where that came from.
With that knowledge and the fact that multiple members of this year's team are recruiting him to UK, as well as Calipari, makes Kentucky one of the front-runners.
It's really a toss-up between these two programs right now, but you just can't bet against Calipari (twice) and his championship ring.
1. Jabari Parker
Weight: 220 pounds
Considering: BYU, Duke, Florida, Michigan State, North Carolina, Stanford
Jabari Parker is arguably the best high school player in the nation, and has the potential to be one of the best we've seen in years.
The Chicago native has a versatile game in which he can do just about anything. He can score, facilitate, rebound, block shots, force turnovers, create for others and impact the game without the ball in his hands. He has range and the ability to drive through the lane and finish, and the potential to go for 30 points if teams don't take him seriously.
Parker is a tough man to stop, but an even tougher one to recruit.
Apparently Parker isn't even allowed to answer coaches' calls directly, with his parents fielding the messages.
This recruitment looks like it could come down to a pair of schools as well, with Duke and Michigan State in the lead.
However, don't sleep on the Spartans.
Not only did Parker visit Michigan State, but they were among the first schools to host him. There is also the fact that allow him to be close to home, which has the team being called the team to beat, and remaining high on Parker's list for months.
We know that Parker won't be signing during the early period, pushing his decision back until the spring. That means that there is still a lot of time for things to change, but if he is going to play in college I expect it to be at MSU right now.
Prediction: Michigan State