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Assessing The Top High Schoolers’ October Decisions

Halloween is already on our rear-view, so it’s time to take a look at the commitments some of the best players from the class of 2020 have made this month, and how things stand around the nation.

High School Basketball: JUN 02 Pangos All-American Camp Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Another month of high school hoops is in the books now, and although we’re still far from watching these kids play college-ball for the first time, decisions and commitments keep pilling up all around the nation. The closer we get to Christmas time, the more talk there will be about some of the best players picking this or that path to their future, and October proved that right.

While looking at the national rankings (always by 247Sports Composite), there were nine prospects ranked 90th or higher to give word to a university in October, plus one decommitment from the 56th-best kid from the 2020 class. Not a huge amount, but enough to see how things developed around the most-coveted kids in the nation. While some of those decisions might not amount to much in the long run, others can make quite an impact on their colleges of choice. Let’s take a look at the players, the universities, some trends, and more about all of those eight commitments!

Who Are The Players And Where Do They Come From?

There are names coming from everywhere, and that’s what I like the most. Only two players made decisions from the same prep (IMG Academy), and this time we even have a kid from Puerto Rico naming his next stop! Other than that, usual suspects come back for another run (Brewster Academy, Montverde) while low-profile schools also made their way to the list (Christian Brothers College, Putnam Science Academy).

The players themselves are listed next, including their national ranking, position, current high school, and star rating:

  • No. 9 SF Scottie Barnes - Montverde Academy (Montverde, FL) - 5-star recruit
  • No. 12 PF Isaiah Todd - Word of God Christian Academy (Raleigh, NC) - 5-star recruit
  • No. 16 SG Jaden Springer - IMG Academy (Bradenton, FL) - 5-star recruit
  • No. 21 PG Caleb Love - Christian Brothers College (Saint Louis, MO) - 5-star recruit
  • No. 29 C Mark Williams - IMG Academy (Bradenton, FL) - 4-star recruit
  • No. 55 PG Andre Curbelo - Long Island Lutheran (Puerto Rico) - 4-star recruit
  • No. 57 CG R.J. Davis - Archbishop Stepinac (White Plains, NY) - 4-star recruit
  • No. 64 PG Hassan Diarra - Putnam Science Academy (Putnam, CT) - 4-star recruit
  • No. 90 CG Jamal Mashburn Jr. - Brewster Academy (Miami, FL) - 4-star recruit

Don’t be mad at me. I didn’t include their college of choice on purpose. One step at a time, folks.

All in all, we have four 5-star players and five 4-star ones, so the quality is indeed there. There are three pure point guards this time to go with a couple of combos, a shooting guard, a small forward, a power forward, and a center. A resounding win for the little men there in October.

Have Those Schools Any Track Record Of Top-Player Production?

You know at least a few of those high schools—no matter if you read Ridiculous Upside frequently or not. Just being around basketball should have brought some of those names to your conversations at least once: Montverde is the go-to prep in the nation lately and has had quite a successful list of players coming from it lately. IMG Academy is on the same page, and Brewster Academy is pretty much on par with those.

On the other hand, though, Christian Brothers or Putnam Science usually fly under the radar and are not producing studs yearly.

Brewster Academy produced the 31st-best prospect in the nation (Craig Brackins) in 2007, and they have only been stopped from having a top 50 talent in 2011, 2016, and 2018. Other than those three times, they have been able to put as many as 18 players in the list of top 50 national high school players with Jalen Lecque (no. 40), Alonzo Gaffney (no. 47) and, Kai Jones (no. 49) as part of their 2019 class.

I don’t think I can tell you much you don’t already know about Montverde Academy, but here are some of their productions of late: D’Angelo Russell (2014 no. 16), Ben Simmons (2015 no. 1), RJ Barret (2018 no. 1), and Cade Cunningham (2020 no. 2). Nothing left to be said.

The same has happened at IMG Academy, with the Florida-based prep exporting studs lately in Jonathan Isaac (2016 no. 8), Trevon Duval (2017 no. 6), and Anfernee Simons (2018 no.8).

Some notable players that look more like one-offs than a constant in their high schools’ production pipelines are those coming from Word of God Christian Academy (nurtured no. 2 John Wall in 2009) and Putnam Science Academy (2017 no. 10 Hamidou Diallo). Neither of Long Island Lutheran, Christian Brothers College, and Archbishop Stepinac has ever produced a top-25 recruit.

And The Most Important Thing... Where Are They Going To Play College Ball?

Just as a refresher from last month’s article, here is the recruiting leaderboard from the past five years—which includes the senior HS classes from 2015 to 2019:

  • 25 Commits - Kentucky
  • 22 - Duke
  • 14 - Arizona
  • 9 - Kansas, UCLA
  • 8-to-1 - 56 Combined Colleges

No surprise here, right? You’d have locked-in Kentucky and Duke as the top two universities even not following college basketball. It’s the world we live in, sadly. On average, Kentucky has gotten five top 50 players per class in each of the past five years. And Duke, well, more of the same.

So, have things been different during the past few weeks when it comes to college commitments? Here is how the last month ended looking like:

  • North Carolina (2): Caleb Love (no. 21), R.J. Davis (no. 57)
  • Duke (1): Mark Williams (no. 29)
  • Florida State (1): Scottie Barnes (no. 9)
  • Illinois (1): Andre Curbelo (no. 55)
  • Michigan (1): Isaiah Todd (no. 12)
  • Minnesota (1): Jamal Mashburn Jr. (no. 90)
  • Tennessee (1): Jaden Springer (no. 16)
  • Texas A&M (1): Hassan Diarra (no. 64)

More of less of a win for mid-tier colleges, wasn’t it? Duke was beaten by North Carolina, which I get it, is another blue-blood but still. Not only that, but among the nine players profiled they could only get the no. 29 overall in the nation and fifth-best between those nine.

The top three kids to commit to a college in October picked three universities that have either not won the chip yet (Florida State, Tennessee) or did so more than 30 years ago (Michigan).

Moving on to how the teams are shaping for the 2021 season with the commitments of kids from the 2020 class, Duke jumped over Kentucky with the addition of Mark Williams, while North Carolina and Tennessee complete a pretty tight top four entering November. On a scale from 1-to-100 in which 100 means a consensus-best player around the nation, the average Kentucky and Duke prospect on their 2020 classes have values of 99.14 and 99.02 points respectively (per 247Sports). North Carolina sits at 99.00 while Tennessee has the second-highest value at 99.10.

Looking back to 2003—the first year 247Sports provides data from—Kentucky’s 2020 class is shaping as one of the best in the 18-year span. It already ranks 21st-best in the 1-to-100 explain already introduced and has four players in it (two 5-stars and two 4-stars). Considering the names floating around the Wildcats with decisions still pending, this class has a legitimate chance of becoming one of—if not the—best ever.

Wait a second, didn’t you mention a decommitment earlier in the column?

Uh, oh! How could I forget!?

Yes indeed, there has been a kid who has re-opened his recruiting process in October. He is PG Jalen Terry, from Beecher (Mount Morris, MI), the current 56th-best prospect in the nation. Terry had committed to Michigan State all the way back in April but has now open the door to other universities to get him.

This doesn’t mean Michigan State is completely out of the equation, though. Actually, the Spartans are still the favorites to land Terry come decision time. The experts at 247Sports give Michigan State a 60 percent chance to get him over Michigan, who has a 40 percent chance, though other schools such as LSU and Louisville have scored visits from the kid in late October and early November.

Early decisions always come with caveats and you never know what can happen. April was way too early in Terry’s process and it ended up showing. Good for him that he’s choosing to take a calmer approach to this as it can affect his future wildly.