Few shooting guards in the 2016 class were more coveted than Rawle Alkins.
The 5-star recruit committed to Arizona on Monday, per ESPN's Jeff Borzello.
Alkins wore an Arizona tie while announcing his decision, per Will Brinson of CBS Sports:
Will Brinson @WillBrinson
Rawle Alkins just announced he’s going to Arizona. Wore a custom tie too! https://t.co/qi48iKgGbc2016-3-8 03:00:21
According to 247Sports' composite rankings, Alkins is the No. 3 shooting guard and No. 17 overall recruit in 2016. He's also the best player in the state of New York.
The UNLV Rebels were also a finalist for Alkins, but Mark Anderson of the Las Vegas Review-Journal didn't believe they had a serious chance:
Mark Anderson @markanderson65
Signs point to Rawle Alkins choosing Arizona. Coaching situation at #UNLVMBB too uncertain. #RJnow2016-3-7 20:55:38
What the Wildcats lack in quantity with regard to their 2016 class, they more than make up for with quality. Alkins is the third player to commit to the school, joining Lauri Markkanen and Kobi Simmons. Markkanen is the 18th-ranked power forward, and Simmons is the third-best combo guard in the country, per 247Sports' composite rankings.
Assuming he returns to the school next year, freshman Allonzo Trier will form a formidable backcourt in 2016-17 along with Simmons and Alkins. Trier is averaging 14.6 points a game on 46.7 percent shooting.
Even with the graduations of guard Gabe York and center Kaleb Tarczewski, the Wildcats are positioned well ahead of next year.
Plenty of schools have lined up in the past few months to throw a scholarship offer Alkins' way. In June, Alkins tweeted out a handful of the schools hot on his trail:
Rawle Alkins @Iam_RawleAlkins
A list of all my offers with more on the way all I can say is im blessed shoutout to @JDOOLING31 on the edit http://t.co/ckR8BmA7062015-6-23 20:12:26
He spent his first three years of high school at Christ the King in New York City but transferred to Word Of God Christian Academy in Raleigh, North Carolina. Nick Forrester of the New York Daily News reported in mid-June that Alkins' eligibility was in question relating to problems dating back to his eighth-grade season.
None of that served to stunt his progress whatsoever. Whoever remained unconvinced about Alkins' game became convinced after he played for Team USA at the 2015 Adidas EuroCamp.
"He showed some unbelievable athleticism, the ability to shoot the ball and make plays for others," said Jerry Stackhouse, who coached Team USA, per Austin Green of ZagsBlog.com. "I think that’s the thing that you lose sight of with Rawle because he’s a scorer. But he’s a willing passer too."
Hoopsfix shared a Vine of Alkins from the event. In the brief clip, the prep phenom shows off his quick feet and impressive acceleration:
Hoopsfix 🇬🇧🏀 @Hoopsfix
Rawle Alkins (@iam_rawlealkins) goes baseline for 2 of his 18 vs France at @adidaseurocamp! #adidaseurocamp https://t.co/jL7mNLN06n2015-6-7 09:26:14
Still, a lot of Alkins' perceived value is wrapped up in the player many expect him to be rather than how good he is right now. You can say that about almost any recruit, but it's especially true for Alkins.
At the high school level, the opposition simply can't handle him physically. He's bigger, stronger and faster than most at his position. Once he hits college, that will change quite a bit. The physical difference won't be quite as stark.
This is not to say that Alkins is merely a great athlete who happens to play basketball. He's a good shooter, and his ability to score inside cannot be ignored.
But in order for him to fully maximize his physical gifts, he'll need to become more locked in defensively and a little more polished offensively.