Winners and Losers from Start of College Basketball's April Recruiting Period

David KenyonFeatured ColumnistApril 13, 2018

Winners and Losers from Start of College Basketball's April Recruiting Period

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    John Calipari is pumped about the beginning of the April signing period.
    John Calipari is pumped about the beginning of the April signing period.Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    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

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    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.

    Arizona is still pursuing top-100 prospects Jordan BrownBrandon Williams and James Akinjo, but Doutrive is an important first commitment for the coaching staff.

Loser: Fresno State Bulldogs

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    Rodney Terry left UTEP and might've taken Fresno State's top recruit, too.
    Rodney Terry left UTEP and might've taken Fresno State's top recruit, too.Brandon Magnus/Getty Images

    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.

    Likekeleranked No. 112 nationallyrequested 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 backcourtwhich loses three key contributorsLikekele may end up staying following Terry to UTEP.

Winner: Kentucky Wildcats

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    No program had a better week than Kentucky, which secured a couple of commitments from 5-star prospects.

    E.J. Montgomery, the nation's No. 12 player, gave his verbal pledge to the Wildcats. The power forward joins a class that already featured 5-star guards Keldon Johnson and Immanuel Quickley.

    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

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    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    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 importantespecially for top prospects. Some players know immediately. But others, such as Montgomery, find out important information late in the cycle.

Winner: Illinois Fighting Illini

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    Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

    Illinois signed 5-star guard Ayo Dosunmu five months ago, but Brad Underwood completed a six-man recruiting class in April.

    Tevian Jones, the No. 117 player in the class, committed early in the month and signed Wednesday. March pledge Samba Kane made it official and sent in his paperwork, too. He's ranked No. 279 overall.

    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.

    Alan Griffin and Giorgi Bezhanishvili round out what should be a top-30 recruiting haul for the second straight year.

Loser: East Carolina Pirates

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    Joe Dooley is back at East Carolina, but the former Florida Gulf Coast coach must pick up a few pieces on the recruiting trail.

    Mike Wynn and DeShaun Wadewho are ranked 390th and 439th in the country, respectivelyboth requested and received their release from the American Athletic Conference school.

    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.