NCAA Basketball Recruiting: Latest Buzz on Top Undecided Players in 2014 Class
The remaining unsigned recruits for 2014 cannot sign until the spring, but there is plenty of buzz about what they might do.
Seven players rated among the top 100 recruits for 2014 by Scout.com, Rivals.com or ESPN.com remain uncommitted. Their scheduled visits to campuses and news about what they are thinking provide hints about which school they might choose.
We provide the latest buzz about those seven unsigned players, including one who may be a college recruit in name only and another who is the remaining big prize of the 2014 class.
We present those seven undecided recruits in reverse order of their ranking, with the one uncommitted program-changing recruit listed last.
Josh Cunningham, a 6'7" small forward from Chicago, looks like he is headed for Bradley unless a better offer comes along.
He has visited Iowa State, Oklahoma, Creighton and Northwestern as well as Bradley, according to 247 Sports. But besides taking the last of his five official visits to Bradley on November 9, Cunningham took two unofficial visits to Bradley earlier.
That suggests his focus is on the Braves. One reason he might not have verbally committed to the Braves on his official visit is that he is waiting to see how things shake out over the winter.
If some other big-name schools don't land a particular recruiting target in the spring or have an unexpected departure after the season, they may come calling at Cunningham's door. He also may be hoping to improve his stock with a big senior season at Morgan Park High School.
Getting a read on D'Angelo Allen is difficult for a few reasons.
1. The 6'7" small forward from Dallas has considerable potential with his athleticism, length and ability to shoot. But his shortcomings in ball-handling, decision-making and general basketball knowledge tend to make him an unknown as a college prospect. ESPN.com ranks him as the nation's No. 85 recruit, but Scout.com and Rivals.com don't have him among their top 100.
2. Allen has not made any official visits, so it's not clear which schools hold the most interest for him. Marquette and Oklahoma seem to be his favorites, but Georgetown and Arkansas also have appeal. Oregon, Providence, Texas A&M and Texas Tech are also listed as schools he's considering according to various recruiting services.
3. Like Josh Cunningham, Allen may want to showcase his talents during his senior year of high school. If he shows development in his basketball acumen to go along with his athletic potential, he may have more choices in the spring.
Jonah Bolden, a 6'8" forward from Findlay Prep by way of Australia, is scheduled to visit UCLA on Dec. 6, according to Scout.com. That suggests the Bruins may be the front-runner.
Assuming the report is correct, it's a puzzling time for the Bruins to schedule Bolden's visit because UCLA does not play a home game that weekend. Of course, the game-day atmosphere at Pauley Pavilion cannot match that of some of the other big-time basketball programs, so Steve Alford may not want to present that comparison.
Bolden cut his list of colleges to six in mid-November: Indiana, Kentucky, Louisville, USC, UCLA and SMU. But earlier in November, he told SNY.tv, “I’d say the ones that are working hard on me now are UCLA, SMU, Louisville [and] Indiana, that’s probably the top right there."
UCLA assistant David Grace visited with Bruce Bolden, Jonah’s father, in Australia, according to the SNY.tv report, and that may have made an impression.
The Bruins have already signed power forward Kevon Looney, rated the nation's No. 11 overall recruit by ESPN.com. But that does not seem to be a deterrent for Bolden, who sees himself as a small forward.
“Coach Grace asked me the other day about him coming there, and he said he’s going to play power forward, which I love to hear,” Bolden said, according to SNY.tv. “Me being an inch taller than him and playing the three, stretch four, that’s something to take into account.”
Jeff Borzello of CBSSports.com wrote a few weeks ago of Bolden's recruitment, "UCLA could be tough to beat here."
Indiana is the other school that is competing hard for Bolden. The Hoosiers were not on Bolden's original list of 10 schools, but they seem to be coming on strong now.
Perhaps because Findlay Prep has so many other Division I prospects on the squad, the ratings for Bolden vary considerably. Scout.com ranks him as the No. 30 recruit in the class, but Rivals.com and ESPN.com rank him No. 62 and No. 70, respectively.
Ever since guard JaQuan Lyle decommitted from Louisville in September, his admission that he would like to play with friend Cliff Alexander in college has influenced how outsiders see Lyle's recruitment.
Lyle has visited Arizona and Connecticut, so those are among the schools he is considering. Indiana is also in the mix for Lyle, and Scout.com reported on Nov. 13 that the Hoosiers "appear to be in the driver's seat" to land Lyle. However, that was before Indiana signed guard James Blackmon, who seemed to be a lock to sign for Kentucky before opting for the Hoosiers. Whether there is the same mutual interest between Lyle and Indiana now is unclear.
Lyle also made an unofficial visit to West Virginia on Nov. 16, and Oregon offered him a scholarship after watching him on Nov. 17, according to SNY.tv.
However, Lyle is scheduled to visit Kansas on Jan. 11. The Jayhawks host Kansas State that night, so you know Allen Fieldhouse will be rocking.
The Kansas visit is particularly significant because Alexander, a power forward rated the nation's No. 3 recruit by ESPN.com, signed with Kansas during the fall. Lyle did not accompany Alexander when he made his official visit to Kansas. Lyle added that he and Alexander are not a package deal like Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones were for Duke. But his words in the September CBSSports.com article suggest Kansas would certainly hold interest now that Alexander is committed there.
The fact that the Jayhawks need a guard like Lyle doesn't hurt, either. If freshman Kansas guard Wayne Selden declares for the NBA draft after this season, which seems likely, that will increase the Jayhawks' need in the backcourt.
Rashad Vaughn is the highest-rated unsigned guard expected to play college ball, but he is unlikely to make a decision anytime soon.
He is scheduled to make an official visit to North Carolina on Feb. 14, when the Tar Heels host Kentucky in a game of national importance. Kentucky is not listed among the schools Vaughn is considering, according to most recruiting sites, but 247 reported that Kentucky assistant coach Orlando Antigua visited Vaughn on Dec. 3. That February 14 game in Chapel Hill, N.C., may have increased significance as a result.
North Carolina seems to be the front-runner for Vaughn, who would fit the Tar Heels' need for a guard who can score from anywhere on the floor.
Iowa State, UNLV and Baylor are the other schools Vaughn has visited. He was on hand in Ames, Iowa, when Iowa State beat Michigan, and he seemed impressed with the Cyclones' program.
“Yeah I liked it a lot,” Vaughn told SNY.tv.
Dante Exum, a 6'6" combo guard from Australia, is likely to pass up college and go directly to the NBA. As an international player who will turn 19 next year, he has that option.
Exum has not announced that he will enter the NBA draft. He is still considering playing college ball in the United States for a year, and Indiana, North Carolina, Kentucky, Oregon and Michigan appear to be the schools he is considering. He has made a visit to Indiana, so the Hoosiers would seem to be the top contender if he chooses to play college ball.
However, not much attention is being paid to Exum's recruitment, because there is an assumption he will enter the 2014 NBA draft.
Exum said he expects to made a decision by February about whether he will enter the NBA draft. He told the Sydney Morning Herald that the decision "shouldn’t be too hard to make." That sounds as though he has already decided to turn pro, and Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reported Exum has already begun speaking with potential agents.
Even Andrew Bogut, an NBA center from Australia who played college ball at Utah, is saying Exum should turn pro now, according to Australian Associated Press.
Exum graduated from the Australian Institute of Sport in November, so he will spend his time now making a decision on his immediate future. It seems like a foregone conclusion that he will turn pro, but stranger things have happened.
If he does decide to play college ball, news of his campus visits probably will come quickly thereafter.
Virtually everyone in Stillwater, Okla., will have their eyes on center Myles Turner this weekend, because he is scheduled to make an official visit to Oklahoma State beginning Dec. 6.
The 6'11" center from Bedford, Texas, is the type of player who can carry a team, and Oklahoma State will need such a player with sophomore guard Marcus Smart expected to enter the NBA draft after this season. Turner's appeal is that he is not only a force in the paint, but he can venture out to the three-point line and hit shots.
In a video provided by ChicagoHoops.com through Sporting News, Turner notes that seven schools are still in contention for his services: Oklahoma State, Ohio State, Duke, Kentucky, Texas, Arizona and Kansas. Louisville was recently eliminated from contention, and SMU was not mentioned either after being on his list previously.
Oklahoma State, which will host South Carolina on the day Turner visits, obviously is high on his list, but so is Ohio State, which he officially visited in October. Turner called Buckeyes coach Thad Matta “one of my favorite coaches I’ve talked to,” according to Sporting News.
Turner also has visited Texas, but his comments in the ChicagoHoops.com video did not sound like he was particularly enthused about Texas.
The fact that Duke and Kentucky both signed highly touted centers in the fall signing period has not caused Turner to eliminate those schools from consideration. Turner notes in the ChicagoHoops.com video that Kentucky signee Jahlil Okafor is primarily a low-post player, while Turner can venture to the perimeter. Meanwhile, Kentucky signee Karl Towns can play on the perimeter, which would allow the versatile Turner to play either center or power forward with the Wildcats. Turner figures he could comfortably play alongside either.
Turner's father confirmed those sentiments to SNY.tv and also said that Cliff Alexander's signing with Kansas does not eliminate the Jayhawks from consideration.
Lyle has not set any timetable for reaching a decision, so it may be a while before he makes a verbal commitment.