Some of the best high school players in every college basketball recruiting class make some unexpected decisions and announcements that come out of the blue.
Even though most of the top high school players in the class of 2014 have not announced their selections yet, we have already witnessed some unanticipated choices.
Some surprises have to do with where certain players are going. For others, the jolt comes from players going to places that already have talent and depth at their position.
Even in the world of college basketball recruiting, the old saying is true: “To each his own.”
Here are the most surprising 2014 commitments so far.
Lance Tejada, a 4-star point guard from South Florida, passed on offers from Miami, Alabama, Florida State and Butler to lace them up for East Carolina University.
That is huge for head coach Jeff Lebo and the Pirates.
The fact that ECU has only made two NCAA tournament appearances (1972 and 1993) in school history makes Tejada’s decision that much more astounding.
The Miami Herald’s Fabian Lyon reported that this “throwback, pass-first point guard” has already led Pompano Beach Blanche Ely to two straight Class 7A championships, with the chance of pulling off a three-peat as a senior.
Maryland men's basketball coach Mark Turgeon pulled in another talented big man in the class of 2014 in 4-star center Trayvon Reed. A legit seven-footer, Reed has huge upside.
His ESPN.com scouting report says (Insider subscription required):
His combination of size, length, and bounce is off the charts. He's got a massive, yet still mobile, frame and can go up as high as the top of the box to catch lobs. He not only runs the floor well for a guy his size but also has relatively good agility, allowing him to patrol the lane at a wide radius with his shot-blocking ability.
Reed was not short on options. He had numerous ACC and SEC offers when he decided to head to Maryland. What is confounding about his decision is that the Terrapins have been signing aspiring centers ever since Turgeon came to town.
By the time Reed starts his freshman season a year from now, there could be a traffic jam down low and playing time could be scarce.
Some surprises are good and encouraging.
When 4-star small forward Victor Law decided to commit to Northwestern, ESPN.com’s Dave Telep said he was “a historic recruit for Northwestern” and “the highest ranked for the Wildcats in recent memory.”
According to Sports Illustrated’s Luke Winn, Law was Northwestern’s first Top 75 recruit since Evan Eschmeyer in 1993.
Law, a Windy City product, is a multi-skilled wing who will bring a level of athleticism and swagger that is rarely seen in a NU uniform. He also could be the catalyst for future Chicago-area recruiting success.
New Northwestern head coach Chris Collins wants to change the culture of Wildcat basketball mediocrity. Securing a commitment from a local star, like Law, helps Collins start the process off right.
I do not understand why a talented player like Ohio State-commit Jae'Sean Tate chose to go to a school that has an abundance of players at his position.
Tate, a 6’5” small forward, committed to the Buckeyes in November the day after Buckeyes' head coach Thad Mata had received the commitment of 5-star small forward Keita Bates-Diop.
Sure, Tate is a hard-nosed competitor who will not back down from a little competition.
He may have expected to play alongside Bates-Diop, but, this past spring, the Buckeyes received a commitment from 5-star shooting guard D'Angelo Russell.
A crowded OSU perimeter just got more crowded.
Grayson Allen’s college decision is not surprising on a personal level.
The 4-star shooting guard from Jacksonville, Fla., has wanted to play for Duke since he was in seventh grade, according to The News & Observer Laura Keeley.
However, when you look at the talent that head coach Mike Krzyzewski will likely have in the Blue Devils' backcourt when Allen arrives on campus, does his choice make a lot of sense?
It is very possible that Rasheed Sulaimon will be back for his junior year in 2014-15 and that Matt Jones will return for his sophomore season.
Allen is an excellent shooter from beyond the arc and has good size for his position, but at Duke, he is going to have to work very hard and be extremely patient to get his chance at significant playing time.
Joel Berry, a 5-star point guard, could have gone just about any place he wanted to in the country.
His choice to become a Tar Heels' floor leader is not surprising until you look at who is already on campus at his position.
When Berry arrives in Chapel Hill, N.C., next year, Marcus Paige will likely be heading into his junior season and Nate Britt will be returning for his sophomore season.
Make no mistake about it. Berry is gifted and versatile. He will not concede anything upon his arrival on campus, but the point position is Paige’s to lose and I do not see that happening any time soon.
ESPN.com’s Dave Telep suggests that Berry will give North Carolina options:
Projected as a perfect fit for North Carolina's up-tempo, transition offense. He'll allow Roy Williams to play at the speed he wishes alongside lefty point guard Marcus Paige.
Emmanuel Mudiay's decision to go to Southern Methodist University is remarkable.
He had the opportunity to jump on board with Kentucky, Kansas or any of a number of other elite-level programs. Instead, he decided to stay in Dallas and play for Hall of Fame coach Larry Brown at a school that has not made it to the NCAA tournament since 1993.
Mudiay is an exceptional floor leader with great size. He is also the caliber of player who can elevate a team into national contention.
Everyone knew that things would be interesting when Brown signed on to be the Mustangs coach. Few knew, however, that he would be pulling in players like Mudiay.