Winners and Losers from Start of College Basketball's April Recruiting Period
As college basketball fans await the decisions of two top prospects during the April signing period, a few programs had a week worth celebrating.
It's a good time to cheer for the Wildcats, since two schools with the nickname reeled in top-100 playesr. Kentucky received a commitment from a 5-star, and Arizona is no longer striking out with the 2018 class.
Other teams, however, would like to move on quickly.
In addition to Duke missing the biggest prize of the week, two schools undergoing coaching changes lost key players. Let's take a look at the winners and losers so far.
Winner: Arizona Wildcats
Arizona is finally on the board.
Largely due to the program's connection to the ongoing FBI investigation, Sean Miller and Co. entered April with zero commits. It appears the Wildcats won't be leaving without a signee, though.
Ranked No. 82 nationally, Devonaire Doutrive gave his pledge to the school on April 7. Michael Luke of 247Sports noted Laurian Watkins, Doutrive's mentor, said they believed Miller's pitch that he "does things the right way" and has for 20 years.
Loser: Fresno State Bulldogs
In mid-March, Rodney Terry left Fresno State to become the new coach at UTEP. Knowing that, the recent decommitment of top signee Isaac Likekele isn't a surprise. But it doesn't make the loss any less disappointing.
Likekele—ranked No. 112 nationally—requested and received a full release from the university.
Eric Bossi of Rivals.com called Likekele a "playmaker and leader who is as tough as they come."
And instead of overseeing the Bulldogs backcourt—which loses three key contributors—Likekele may end up staying following Terry to UTEP.
Winner: Kentucky Wildcats
No program had a better week than Kentucky, which secured a couple of commitments from 5-star prospects.
Kentucky also reeled in Ashton Hagans, who is ranked No. 8 in the 2019 cycle. According to Evan Daniels of 247Sports, the point guard said he's taking the courses necessary to allow a reclassification into 2018, but whether that pans out is unknown.
In a matter of days, Calipari has turned a decent recruiting class into potentially one of his best.
Loser: Duke Blue Devils
Take that, Duke, you only get four 5-stars.
Montgomery's decision to pick Kentucky stopped the Blue Devils from having their own version of a Fab Five. But what probably stings is they actually were the favorites.
"Duke was his leader for a long time," said Larry Thompson, Mongtomery's high school coach, per Kyle Tucker of SEC Country. "I think it kind of changed after the McDonald's [All-American] Game, after just being around the guys. E.J. had a little concern about the Zion [Williamson] situation: Is he a 4? Where's he going to play? Is he a 5?"
That's a valid concern, and it's a testament to why being patient in the recruiting process is important—especially for top prospects. Some players know immediately. But others, such as Montgomery, find out important information late in the cycle.
Winner: Illinois Fighting Illini
Illinois signed 5-star guard Ayo Dosunmu five months ago, but Brad Underwood completed a six-man recruiting class in April.
The Illini also brought in Andres Feliz, who averaged 20.0 points, 6.1 assists and 5.7 rebounds at Northwest Florida State College last season. That means Illinois is out of the running for 4-star Courtney Ramey, but Underwood took a sure thing over a potential miss.
Loser: East Carolina Pirates
Joe Dooley is back at East Carolina, but the former Florida Gulf Coast coach must pick up a few pieces on the recruiting trail.
Instead of having three top-500 prospects in the 2018 class, East Carolina now has just one with Jayden Gardner. Had they all signed, it would have marked only the second cycle in the last five years with a trio of ECU-bound high school players regarded that highly.