Sports are slowly but surely coming back, and we should be grateful for it. It’s been a while since the last time we saw a basketball roll and fly toward a rim, but we’re closer than ever to have our daily schedules filled with hoops coverage once more. What a relief, if you ask me.
Most NCAA colleges already have their books written and closed in terms of the kids they’ll be handling next season. Most highly-rated players have already picked their places, whether those are part of the amateur circuit or the professional one, as it was the trend during the month of May when it came to future commitments from the 2020 class.
As the last four weeks have not been the ultimate world-breaker of time spans around high schoolers’ decisions I won’t be paying too much attention to rankings on this month’s column. Why? Well, mostly because it’s been the Euro-Commitment Extravaganza with tons of kids from the Old Continent—with most coming from its Eastern parts—naming schools they’ll be enrolling in before turning (or at least attempting to) pro in the States. Let’s get it going!
Who Are The Players And Where Do They Come From?
Here we are. Six Euros moving from their land to the United States to play ball. Such is the hoops world nowadays, folks. Two of them rank inside the top-100 players of the 2020 class, three more are inside the top-200 ballers of this year’s group, and hey, it is not that we can leave the twin of the best player in the group out of our coverage, right?
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
|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|
While the talent at hand can’t be compared to last month’s, or earlier periods’, the truth is that having a couple of Euros ranking inside the top-75 players to come out of the 2020 class is no slouch either. In fact, this is the first time this has happened, and the first time since there is data available (2003 on) that a European kid (two, actually: A.Tubelis and Andronikashvili) has ranked higher than 90th (Isaiah Ihnen in 2019).
Have Those Countries Any Track Record Of Top-Player Production?
We’re flipping preps and high schools for actual, big-as-hell countries this month when it comes to nurturing basketball prospects. The first kid to make my dataset of recruits, based on 247Sports data, that came straight from Europe was Kevin Bright in 2012 (from Germany). He committed to Vanderbilt back then.
No Germans this time, but we have three Lithuanians making the jump and three more that did so before them. None of them have gone to do much for their colleges yet as they enrolled in 2018 and 2019 and the most they’ve played is two seasons. Ignas Sargiunas is the best player to come from Lithuania, ranked 124th in the class of 2018.
Szymon Zapala is the only player from Poland in the dataset, as is Rati Andronikashvili from the country of Georgia. We’ll see how their collegiate careers pan out and use them as the reference point in the future, thus making them the original trailblazers for their countrymen.
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 2016 to 2020 and only accounts for top-50 players in their respective years:
- 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:
- Arizona (2): Azuolas Tubelis (no. 56), Tautvilas Tubelis (no. 494)
- Creighton (2): Rati Andronikashvili (no. 67), Modestas Kancleris (no. 159)
- Utah State (1): Szymon Zapala (no. 123)
No changes in the top-3 as Kentucky (70.37 points) keeps the No. 1 spot followed by North Carolina (69.89) and Duke (69.86). NC and Duke changed spots, sure, but the difference is so minimal that it makes no sense spending much time there, plus there have been no movements or new commitments for them, with just slight changes on the perception of their soon-to-be-freshmen making those tenths move a bit.
As far as the other colleges affected by this month’s commitments, the order goes as follows: Arizona (5th-best class, 65.72 points), Creighton (28th, 55.53), and Utah State (107th, 23.54).
While Arizona and Creighton both got themselves a four-star prospect and top-100 player, the clear winner of the month was Utah State. Szymon Zpala became the first four-star player to commit to the Aggies for 2020, and the only one ranked by 247Sports. As for Arizona, they got their second-best name of the offseason in that of Azuolas Tubelis (their best recruit is no. 48 Dalen Terry); while Creighton’s two international additions this month are the only names in their record for the 2020-21 season per 247Sports rankings.