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Assessing The Top High Schoolers’ September Decisions

We’re just two months from the start of the 2020 NCAA season, and the HS class of 2021, although still one year removed from getting to the collegiate ranks, is gearing up lately with decisions being made all around the nation. Here is the monthly recap of what has happened around next year’s class during the month of September.

Photo by Josh Thomas

I was dubious we’d have a college basketball season in 2020-21, but we’re just a little under two months from it, folks. The ball will be tipped-off next November 25th, and although teams will obviously not feature prospects from the 2021 class until next fall, they will be battling to convince them to pick their campuses when the time comes. For some of these kids, though, that moment is already in their rear-view mirror as they have already picked their spots.

While July and August featured a lot of decisions taking place among HS hoopers, we’re back to normalcy with “only” six top-100 players picking their next destination during the month of September. The average rank of those six comes out at 68.5, although the truth isn’t that shiny as only one of the six ranks inside the top-50 (no. 17 Nathan Bittle) with all of the rest between the 59th and 97th spots.

I won’t get into detail about their preps later in the column, but there were six more prospects ranked inside the top-150 of 2021 who picked colleges during the past four weeks. A great and exciting month for all of us Upside Followers, that’s for sure.

Who Are The Players And Where Do They Come From?

As I just wrote, up to 12 players inside the 150 best of the 2021 class made their decisions during the last 30 days. The summer ended, and the pace of deciding future steps slowed with it. Yet even with that development, we still got a five-star kid giving his word to a school. Yay!

The players ranked inside the top-100 (six of them) are listed next, including their national ranking, position, current high school, bio, and star/ovr rating per 247Sports:

2021 HS Class September Decisions

Yr Rk Name High School Pos Hgt Wgt Stars Avg College
Yr Rk Name High School Pos Hgt Wgt Stars Avg College
2021 17 Nathan Bittle Prolific Prep (Napa, CA) C 6'11 200 5 9.948 Oregon
2021 59 Ben Gregg Clackamas (Clackamas, OR) PF 6'8 210 4 9.769 Gonzaga
2021 65 Carter Whitt Brewster Academy (Wolfeboro, NH) PG 6'3 170 4 9.735 Wake Forest
2021 79 D'Marco Dunn Westover (Fayetteville, NC) SG 6'4 180 4 9.669 North Carolina
2021 94 Jahmai Mashack Etiwanda (Rancho Cucamonga, CA) SF 6'5 190 4 9.548 Tennessee
2021 97 CJ Noland Waxahachie (Waxahachie, TX) SG 6'3 215 4 9.518 Oklahoma
2021 HS Class September Decisions

The best of prospects to pick a college during this past month is a top-20 recruit in the nation: big man Nathan Bittle, from Napa, CA. He’s the lone five-star player to have chosen a college during the past four weeks, and he decided to move north to play for the Oregon Ducks come the 2021-22 season.

Don’t get upset with having just one top-tier talent here this month, though. There are three more players in the list of six picking colleges while ranked as the no. 1 or no. 2 prospect in their states, which isn’t bad at all.

To close this group, two more prospects, both ranked as the top-7 prospects in their states (California and Texas) picked colleges in September. All names considered, we have kids ranging from no. 17 to no. 97 with a top-20 kid, three top-75s, and three more in the 75-t-100 clip.

Missed the top-100 cut: Kok Yat (no. 103, DePaul), Michael James (no. 111, Louisville), Jusaun Holt (no. 123, Alabama), John Camden (no. 125, Memphis), Ja’Vier Francis (no. 127, Houston), and Nisine Poplar (no. 146, Miami).

Have Those Prospect’s High Schools Any Track Record Of Top-Player Production?

While Prolific Prep (CA) hasn’t been around for long—they have their first ranked kid in the 2016 class at no. 203), they have been crushing it as of late. They pumped the 17th-best player of 2017 into the system (Gary Trent Jr.), the 19th-best from the 2018 class (Jordan Brown), and although 2019 was a down year for the prep, they came back stronger than ever last year with no. 2 Jalen Green skipping college and going straight to the G League and no. 34 Nimari Burnett committing to Texas Tech to ball this 2020-21 season. They’re back at it with no. 17 Nathan Bittle going to Oregon next year, while they also feature the currently-ranked 28th-best prospect of the 2022 class (Arterio Morris, already committed to Memphis).

Nothing to talk about with regards to Clackamas (OR). This is uncharted territory for the high school, as they have only put two other kids in the national composite rankings and they were fairly low-end prospects (outside of the 600th-best) all the way back in 2007 and 2008. Ben Gregg (no. 59) is here to change that after committing to play college-ball at the top-tier program of Gonzaga.

The same goes for Westover (NC), as they only have two more prospects in the boards going back to 2005. But check one of those names: Eric Maynor. He was part of the 2005 class, ranked only no. 379, but he went on to play six years in the NBA before moving to Europe and then coming back as the assistant coach of the G League’s OKC Blue in 2019.

The history of Brewster Academy (NH) goes all the way back to 2003 (the first year I have data from, coming from 247Sports Composite Rankings). In all of the years that have passed since then, they have put 19 top-50 prospects in the national consensus board, with their highest-ranked players being no. 13 Will Barton (2010), no. 23 T.J. Warren (2012), no. 29 Donovan Mitchell (2015), and no.8 Terrence Clarke (2020). I might be wrong but do any of those names ring a bell?

Although Etiwanda (CA) has been around forever, they haven’t produced a difference-maker since 2005 when they put no. 80 Darren Collison in the top-100 of the nation. If we’re not too picky, though, we might have to consider the no. 43 player of the 2014 class too as another hit for the Cali prep, a certain Jordan McLaughlin. Collison played in the NBA from 2009 to 2019 and was this close to coming back this past season (COVID prevented it) while McLaughlin is part of the Minnesota Timberwolves organization, has played 30 NBA games so far, and is now on their G League squad.

Not a lot to say about Waxahachie (TX), as CJ Nolan (no. 97) is the best prospect they have ever nurtured. and the Texan high school only has another name in the composite ranks going back to 2010 (no. 246 Jamison Sterns).

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

Here is the recruiting leaderboard from the past five years—which includes the senior HS classes from 2017 to 2021 and only accounts for top-50 players in their respective years, updated to include this month’s decisions:

  • 22 Commits - Kentucky
  • 20 - Duke
  • 9 - North Carolina
  • 8 - Arizona
  • 7 - Kansas, UCLA, LSU
  • 6 - Texas, Villanova, Florida State, USC, Oregon, Memphis
  • 5-to-1 - 48 Combined Colleges

Kentucky and Duke are clearly the top two universities at getting (top) talent. On average, Kentucky has gotten more than four top-50 players per class in each of the past five years, including 2021. And Duke, well, virtually 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:

  • Oregon, Gonzaga, Wake Forest, North Carolina, Tennessee, Oklahoma (one top-100 commit each)

This marks the fifth (!) month in a row in which Florida State has been able to retain the no. 1 rank team in the nation for the 2021 season. The Trojans have 68.63 points and three (!) five-star commits now from the 2021 class to go with a three-star one and a four-star too. Villanova (63.7) and Baylor (62.95) close a top-3 that has not changed since the last time we went over it a month ago.

DePaul jumped to the fourth spot, moving both Michigan colleges down a spot to the fifth (Michigan State) and sixth (Michigan). DePaul has yet to land a five-star kid but they already have four (!) four-star prospects from the 2021 class.

No top prospect opted to turn pro this month among 2021 HS seniors, with the G League already planning the schedule to pit its new prospect-heavy team against some other of the league’s squad starting next season.