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Assessing The Top High Schoolers’ April Decisions

Although we’re still right in the center of a pandemic, the month of April saw all of the remaining top-tier talents of the 2020 class choose their next steps as basketball players. Get ready, because not all of them will be playing college-hoops next season and instead opted to turn pro before anyone expected them to.

HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL: JAN 19 Spalding Hoophall Classic Photo by John Jones/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Regular- and post-season games, and our favorite exhibition events are no longer part of our schedules no matter the level we’re talking about in the world of hoops. It’s what happens when you find yourself in the middle of a worldwide pandemic that is hitting every corner of our planet.

With the season pretty much on the books—except for the NBA, which is still trying to get back for a final run—some kids around the nation still had to pick what to do next with their careers. As always, the no. 1 path is attending college via scholarship to become part of the NCAA circus. Until now, it seems.

The last four weeks related to the class of 2020 hoopers this close to start their collegiate and pro careers in just a few months have come as packed as ever. No need to dig deep into the ranks this time. We have four top-10 players in this edition to go with a fifth one ranked 13th and a sixth one ranked 15th, two more inside the top-60, another kid inside the top-100, and two more into the top-150 names. Let’s take a look at the players, the universities, some trends, and more about all of our 11 April commitments though!

Who Are The Players And Where Do They Come From?

No two players from the same high school named their next place during the month of April, though California as a state put four names of the total nine in the list. Texas, Georgia, Minnesota, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Nevada, and New England completed the field.

The players themselves are listed next, including their national ranking, position, current high school, bio, and star/ovr rating per 247Sports:

2021 HS Class June Decisions

Yr Rk Name High School Pos Hgt Wgt Stars Avg College
Yr Rk Name High School Pos Hgt Wgt Stars Avg College
2021 34 Trey Patterson Rutgers Preparatory School (Somerset, NJ) SF 6'7 185 4 9.867 Villanova
2021 42 Daeshun Ruffin Callaway (Jackson, MS) PG 5'9 160 4 9.842 Ole Miss
2021 46 Benny Williams St Andrews Episcopal School (Potomac, MD) SF 6'8 180 4 9.826 Syracuse
2021 95 Isaiah Barnes River Forest (Oak Park, IL) SF 6'6 180 4 9.609 Michigan
2021 102 Casey Simmons Milton Academy (Milton, MA) SG 6'5 170 4 9.575 Northwestern
2021 109 Cesare Edwards Hartsville (Hartsville, SC) PF 6'10 205 4 9.510 Xavier
2021 114 Ike Cornish Legacy Charter (Baltimore, MD) SG 6'6 185 4 9.441 Maryland

That group is straight insane. Six five-star players, four more four-stars, and a three-star kid who happens to be the no. 2 player out of New England. If you don’t think that’s crazy, I don’t even know. Even if you don’t follow HS hoops most probably you’ve already heard about some of those names making the top-heavy media rounds. Such is the talent.

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

It is impossible not to know Sierra Canyon (CA) these days. With Bronny James and Zaire Wade in the team, the coverage they get is massive. But they’re not the only names to check that happen to be there. This month marked Williams’ turn but not long ago another top-10 player (no. 7 BJ Boston) commited to Kentucky from Sierra. The other top-tier player the school has produced? Marvin Bagley, no. 1 of his class back in 2017.

Two more schools from Cali: Mayfair (CA) has never produced a talent such as Josh Christopher (no. 10) with the best player coming out of Lakewood being Kendall Small in 2015 (no. 113); as for Orange Lutheran (CA), you have to go all the way back to 2012 to find anyone as good as Tibet Gorener is this year, who was no other than no. 62 Gabe York.

And then, there are the most talked-about places in the country these days in Prolific Prep (CA) and Word of God Christian Academy (NC). If you don’t know why, well, you can start by reading our coverage of the Green/Todd commitments and Dakota’s breakdown of Green’s game. Prolific has a long list of great young talents including the likes of Gary Trent Jr., Jordan Brown, and Green’s classmate Nimari Burnett, while WGCA has his best-ever kid in John Wall (2009 no. 2) and has also pumped other players such as CJ Leslie and Rawle Alkins.

On top of that, Daishen Nix (no. 15) ditched his commitment to UCLA to become a pro starting next season and coming out of Trinity International Schools (NV) and becoming its best product since no. 129 Kenny Wooten went to play college-ball at Oregon in 2017.

Nothing to say about Vandegrift (TX), which has never dropped a name in the national ranks with Greg Brown (no. 9) being the first to make the list. North Star (NE) finds itself in the same situation with Donovan Williams (no. 145) being just the second player ranked from the school other than not-so-great Tyler Bullock (no. 767) in 2006. And the same goes for McDowell (PA), as William Jeffress (no. 58) is its first-ever ranked prospect.

Hopkins (MN) has generated a lot of talent through the past few years. Kris Humphries led the way in 2003 (first year in my data set) as a no. 17 recruit, followed by three more top-50 players (Royce White, Amir Coffey, and Zeke Nnaji last season). Kerwin Walton is the fifth-best player to come out of the school since 2003 and a top-100 recruit on his own.

The same, only on a higher level, is what has happened over Norcross (GA). This high school has been a powerhouse forever. Some names to check: Jodie Meeks, Gani Lawal, Al-Farouq Aminu, Shannon Scott, Rayshaun Hammonds... and now JT Thor, all of them top-50 talents around the nation with three MCDAAG appearances between them.

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 leader board from the past five years—which includes the senior HS classes from 2015 to 2019:

  • 25 Commits - Kentucky
  • 22 - Duke
  • 15 - Arizona
  • 10 - UCLA
  • 9 - Kansas
  • 8-to-1 - 60 Combined Colleges

Kentucky and Duke were clearly the top two universities at getting (top) talent. 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:

  • Stanford (1): Ziaire Williams (no. 5)
  • Texas (1): Greg Brown (no. 9)
  • Arizona State (1): Joshua Christopher (no. 10)
  • Auburn (1): JT Thor (no. 51)
  • Pittsburgh (1): William Jeffress (no. 58)
  • North Carolina (1): Kerwin Walton (no. 99)
  • Arizona (1): Tibet Gorener (no. 109)
  • Oklahoma State (1): Donovan Williams (no. 145)

No changes in the top-3 as Kentucky (70.4 points) keeps the No. 1 spot followed by Duke (69.85) and North Carolina (69.83). Not even Kerwin Walton, a top-100 prospect, could foster NC to go over ever-great Duke.

As far as the other colleges affected by this month’s commitments, the order goes as follows: Auburn (7th-best class, 64.33 points), Stanford (13th, 60.17), Arizona (21st, 60.17), Pittsburgh (34th, 52.22), Arizona State (33rd, 52.59), and Texas (89th, 29.7).

No matter what, though, the most game-changing move was the one pulled off by Jalen Green opting to go pro, which Isaiah Todd did too following Green’s steps and Nix completed by removing his name from UCLA’s upcoming class of freshmen and instead turning pro. No one knows how this will impact the scene, but we better keep an eye on the whole recruiting process going forward because the NCAA might be, once for all, in very serious trouble.