NCAA Basketball Recruiting: Latest Buzz on Top Uncommitted Players in 2015 Class

Brian Pedersen@realBJPFeatured ColumnistOctober 10, 2014

NCAA Basketball Recruiting: Latest Buzz on Top Uncommitted Players in 2015 Class

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    Antonio Blakeney, a 5-star shooting guard who de-committed from Louisville in September, is taking his time picking his new school.
    Antonio Blakeney, a 5-star shooting guard who de-committed from Louisville in September, is taking his time picking his new school.Gregory Payan/Associated Press

    The 2015 college basketball recruiting trail had a major player pull off the road Thursday and set up camp for next year with the news that 5-star prospect Henry Ellenson had committed to Marquette.

    The pledge by Ellenson, a 6'10", 230-pound power forward from Rice Lake, Wisconsin, makes him the 12th of 24 players listed as 5-star recruits (according to 247Sports' composite rankings) in the 2015 class to commit.

    The school choice was somewhat of a surprise considering the Golden Eagles went through a coaching change during the offseason, but it's also a sign that new coach Steve Wojciechowski has no plans to take his time rebuilding the Marquette program. It's also one of the few pieces of concrete news related to a top prospect in the 2015 class, as most information about the best of the lot falls more into the realm of speculation or "buzz" than hard facts.

    But that buzz can't be ignored since where the collegiate stars of tomorrow may end up is big news for basketball fans. With that in mind, here's a recap of some of the most noteworthy happenings involving some of the top uncommitted players in the 2015 class.

5-Star Center to Visit Chicago State

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    With few exceptions, players who are worthy of being deemed 5-star college basketball prospects end up committing to and playing for programs in the power conferences. Occasionally some will flirt with less-heralded programs, making a visit there as one of the five schools they're allowed to officially meet with during the recruiting process.

    But Chicago State? A school that's been in Division I for 30 years and never made the NCAA tournament, that hasn't had a winning record since 2008-09 (and only three at the D-I level) and that plays in the geographically challenged Western Athletic Conference?

    According to Brian Stinnette of Hoops247.com, Caleb Swanigan plans to visit Chicago State at some point. The 6'8", 265-pound from Fort Wayne, Indiana, who is rated as the No. 12 overall prospect and third-best center, will be going there because of his guardian Roosevelt Barnes' relationship with Chicago State coach Tracy Dildy, according to Stinnette.

    Swanigan is visiting Kentucky this weekend during the school's two-day scouting combine, which ESPNU will televise, but he doesn't have any official visits scheduled. 247Sports' Crystal Ball prediction has Michigan State as the overwhelming favorite for Swanigan, at 95 percent, with Louisville a distant second at 5 percent.

Elijah Thomas Sets Commit Date

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    Elijah Thomas has already made four of his five official visits, and he is scheduled to visit Texas A&M this weekend. It won't be long after that trip to College Station that the 4-star power forward ends the speculation about his future, because he's indicated he will announce his commitment Oct. 21.

    Ranked No. 28 overall and eighth among power forwards in the 2015, the 6'9", 240-pounder from Rockwall, Texas, will choose between A&M, Illinois, LSU, Oklahoma State and SMU. 247Sports listed Oklahoma State as the front-runner, with a 57 percent chance, and if Thomas picks the Cowboys it would mark the second major commitment for the program this month.

    On Oct. 1 Oklahoma State got a commitment from point guard Jawun Evans, a 5-star prospect from Dallas who is No. 21 overall.

Loaded Lineup for Late Night in the Phog

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    Schools' Midnight Madness events serve two main purposes: to hype up the fans for the upcoming season and tempt prospects into picking that school.

    We can't say for certain whether that's going to work for Kansas this year, but the chances are pretty good considering the lineup of recruits planning to attend this year's version of "Late Night in the Phog" on Friday night.

    Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog.com listed 17 players as on the guest list for the event, a list that includes No. 2 overall prospect Jaylen Brown, No. 15 Stephen Zimmerman and No. 16 Carlton Bragg. Kansas hasn't landed any commitments for 2015 yet. 

Big Football Win Could Help Ole Miss Land Top Basketball Recruit

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    Malik Newman "picked the right time to visit Ole Miss," he told Courtney Cronin of the Clarion-Ledger after the 5-star shooting guard spent last weekend in Oxford on an unofficial visit and attended the Rebels' historic win over Alabama.

    Newman, ranked No. 3 in the 2015 class, is a 6'3", 174-pound prospect from nearby Jackson, Mississippi. He made headlines in the spring by noting that he and Milwaukee-bred center Diamond Stone could be a package deal for schools, but that scenario may not pan out if the same schools don't continue to heavily recruit the pair.

    Newman told Cronin that Ole Miss basketball coach Andy Kennedy cited the football team's landing of highly rated defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche in 2013 as someone who "helped them get over the top. He thinks I can do that for the basketball team," Newman told Cronin.

    That's a pretty persuasive argument, since Ole Miss is 5-0 and tied for third in the Associated Press poll. But 247 lists Kentucky as the heavy favorite, with a 57 percent chance of getting Newman's commitment.

Cheick Diallo Wrapping Up Visits

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    New York City used to crank out a few big-time college basketball recruits almost every year, but it's been a while since there's been one as highly touted as Cheick Diallo.

    A 6'9", 218-pound power forward, Diallo is ranked fourth in the nation, and as a result has drawn interest from programs across the country. His official visits reflect that, as Diallo has already visited Iowa State, Kansas, Kentucky and Pittsburgh and will finish his college tour by checking out St. John's on Oct. 18.

    Kansas has the edge, according to 247Sports, at 41 percent.

Decommitted Stars Taking Their Time

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    In the past few months, two players who made early commitments for 2015 backed off from those pledges. Not surprisingly, they both plan to wait a while before picking their new destinations.

    Antonio Blakeney committed to Louisville on Sept. 4, but 11 days later he reopened his recruitment. Since then, he's been visited by coaches from Kentucky, LSU, Missouri, North Carolina and USC, and he has official visits scheduled with Missouri and LSU.

    The 6'4" shooting guard, ranked No. 17 overall, is also reportedly going to schedule visits to Kentucky and Oregon, according to CourtCred.com.

    Since de-committing from Arizona in June (five months after he tabbed the Wildcats as his choice), 4-star point guard Tyler Dorsey has visited Colorado and Oregon, and he is scheduled to be at Kansas this weekend.  

    All recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports, unless otherwise noted.

    Follow Brian J. Pedersen on Twitter at @realBJP.