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Assessing The Top High Schoolers’ August Decisions

We’re entering the last trimester of 2020 with big question marks hanging over the next NCAA season, but that hasn’t put any brakes to HS hoopers in deciding where they want to play at the collegiate level. Here is the monthly recap of what has happened around next year’s class during the torrid month of August.

City Of Palms Classic Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

If you remember about what happened in July, you know that we had a monster month when it came to commitments. It was a good amount (10 kids) and all of them were top-75 prospects from the 2021 HS class of seniors. The average rank was 35, and we actually had three top-20 players and six combined inside the top-30. It was pretty much an incredible month. Things were about to flop in August, right? Wrong!

Looking at the list of the hoopers who have named their next destination during the past 30 days over 247Sports, 14 of them make this month’s column while ranking inside the top-100 prospects in the nation. That makes it back-to-back 10-prospect lists! The average rank from August is a bit lower (50) but we more than compensating that caveat with a very top-heavy couple of names: no. 3 Paolo Banchero and no. 11 Kennedy Chandler. Uh, oh.

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. 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 20 players inside the 150 best of the 2021 class made their decisions during the last 30 days. We hit the peak of summertime—COVID and all...—with August coming to our calendars, and decisions piled up once more. The college-choice virus has also spread all around the country, with commitments coming from states left and right and all around the USA.

The players ranked inside the top-100 (14 of them) are listed next, including their national ranking, position, current high school, bio, and star/ovr rating per 247Sports:

2021 HS Class August Decisions

Yr Rk Name High School Pos Hgt Wgt Stars Avg College
Yr Rk Name High School Pos Hgt Wgt Stars Avg College
2021 3 Paolo Banchero O Dea (Seattle, WA) PF 6'9 235 5 9.993 Duke
2021 11 Kennedy Chandler Sunrise Christian (Wichita, KS) PG 6'1 160 5 9.953 Tennessee
2021 23 Jalen Warley Westtown School (Norristown, PA) CG 6'4 175 5 9.907 Florida State
2021 40 Zaon Collins Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas, NV) PG 6'1 165 4 9.843 UNLV
2021 49 Jordan Hawkins DeMatha Catholic (Hyattsville, MD) SG 6'5 170 4 9.797 Connecticut
2021 51 Nolan Hickman Wasatch Academy (Mount Pleasant, UT) PG 6'2 185 4 9.793 Kentucky
2021 58 Frankie Collins Compass Prep (Chandler, AZ) PG 6'1 180 4 9.761 Michigan
2021 63 Brandon Weston Morgan Park (Chicago, IL) SF 6'5 195 4 9.733 Seton Hall
2021 71 Jaden Akins Farmington (Farmington, MI) PG 6'3 160 4 9.719 Michigan State
2021 80 Tyrese Hunter St Catherines (Racine, WI) PG 6'1 160 4 9.658 Iowa State
2021 84 Chance Moore McEachern (Powder Springs, GA) SG 6'5 195 4 9.641 Arkansas
2021 87 Samson Johnson St. Patrick (Elizabeth, NJ) PF 6'10 200 4 9.618 Connecticut
2021 92 David Jones Teays Valley Christian School (Scott Depot, WV) SF 6'6 195 4 9.564 DePaul
2021 96 James White Heritage (Conyers, GA) SG 6'5 175 4 9.534 Ole Miss
2021 HS Class August Decisions

There were three top-50 players committing in July to this month’s five. See? The overall ranking dropped from last month, but the cream of the crop to pick a college in August definitely beats the one from July. Even if that had not been the case, you can’t argue about the value of this little group of hoopers when you have a top-3 kid in it committing to Duke. Not the most refreshing of choices, but a true world-beater in Banchero as a player and more-than-probable future pro at the NBA level of play.

Joining Banchero on the 5-Star club were Kennedy Chandler (from KS) and Jalen Warley (PA), with the three making for a greatly varying group of players with very different profiles. No wonder all of the remaining 11 players were 4-Star players themselves, with the lowest-ranked James White being the no. 96 prospect in the country himself.

Missed the top-100 cut: K.J. Simpson (no. 107, committed to Arizona), Gabe Dorsey (108, Vanderbilt), Tamar Bates (no. 111, Texas), Stevie Mitchell (112, Marquette), Brayon Freeman (140, George Washington), and James Graham (149, Maryland).

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

Our top-tier beast Paolo Banchero is truly coming out of left field. Hailing from O Dea in Seattle (WS), Banch is only the second player to come out of that prep and to get ranked by 247Sports Composite board after no. 301 Noah Williams in 2019. With no past as a hooper-producer, we’ll see if Banchero’s legacy establishes a brighter future at O Dea and the high school becomes a powerhouse in time with kids following Banchero’s steps.

While Sunrise Christian (KS) might not be a synonym of true excellence, the truth is that very few high schools in the whole country produce as many D-I players as the Wichita prep. There are 56 kids listed on 247Sports Composite ranks going back to 2010 when a certain Buddy Hield was just entering his junior season. Look at where Hield is now and how he was only ranked as the 156th-best prospect of his class, and then think about the heights no. 11 Kennedy Chandler—the best prospect Sunrise has ever produced—can reach in a few years.

If you have been into HS hoops lately you know the last two big-time names to come out of Westtown School (PA): 2017 no. 3 Mo Bamba and 2018 no. 2 Cam Reddish. Sure, Jalen Warley is 20 spots lower in the 2021 ranks, but odds are with him to make it to the pros after honing his talents in Florida State at the NCAA level.

Could I tell you anything regarding DeMatha Catholic (MD) you don’t know already even if I wanted? Tall task, if you ask me. Let’s keep it short and name their best-ever products, so you get an idea of what we’re talking about: no. 5 Markelle Fultz, no. 9 Austin Freeman, No. 48 Jerami Grant, and no. 136 Victor Oladipo just to name a few. No big deal, right?

And it is the same if we move our eyeballs to Bishop Gorman (NV). The Las Vegas prep has been dropping quality for a while in the likes of no. 2 Shabazz Muhammad, no. 11 Stephen Zimmerman, or no. 15 Chase Jeter, who are now joined by no. 40 Zaon Collins.

St. Patrick (NJ) is an Elizabeth, New Jersey top-to-bottom staple. At the top of their production ranks sits prep-legend Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (2011 no. 3), but it is not that the school hasn’t produced any more talent: Corey Fisher, Derrick Caracter, DeAndre Bembry, and Dexter Strickland are just some of the names that have made it out of St. Pat in the past few years.

Although McEachren (GA) has been more of a late-bloomer, the Georgia prep has pumped kids into national ranks for almost 20 years already. But let’s be honest, the last three seasons have seen an explosion in talent terms with 2019 no. 35 Isaac Okoro, 2020 no. 24 Sharife Cooper, and now no. 84 Chance Moore leading the way. Oh, Moore also broke the trend of committing to Auburn of the former two, picking Arkansas himself for the first time in the prep history.

The list of players to come out of Wasatch Academy (UT) expands a little bit further in time back to 2016, and the kids they have been able to pump into the collegiate circuit are no joke. Emmanuel Akot went to Arizona in 2017 as the no. 24 player of his class, Mady Sissoko is the no. 40 of the 2020 class, and the best is yet to come with no. 23 Richard Isaacs Jr. being part of the 2022 class.

Compass Prep (AZ) is kinda new to the circuit, and no. 58 Frankie Collins is the best prospect the prep has produced to date, which means the best prospect since they had one ranked for the first time in 2018. The best is yet to come, though, with 2022 no. 16 Sandraque Nganga coming up next.

Nothing to say about Farmington (MI), Heritage (GA), Teays Valley Christian School (WV), and St. Catherines (WI) as they almost have no track record other than this year’s kids.

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, USC, LSU, Texas
  • 6 - Villanova, Florida State
  • 5-to-1 - 52 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 (I have taken into account all prospects to commit in August ranked inside the top-150):

  • Connecticut (2 commits)
  • Duke, Tennessee, Kentucky, Florida State, Seton Hall, DePaul, Texas, Ole Miss, Michigan, Michigan State, Iowa State, Arkansas, Arizona, Vanderbilt, Marquette, George Washington, Maryland (1)

This marks the fourth 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 68.27 points and three four-star commits now from the 2021 class to go with a three-star one and after landing no. 23 Jalen Warley now a five-star too! Villanova (63.78) and Baylor (63.1) close the top-3 that has not changed since the last time we went over it a month ago.

It’s all about Michigan State and Michigan when looking at the top-5 rest of entries. Michigan State has the edge on talent, though, as they boast a five-star player and a couple of four-star ones compared to Michigan’s three four-stars and one three-stars.

No top prospect opted to turn pro this month among 2021 HS seniors, although one of them—no. 33 Bryce Hopkins—dropped the hammer on Louisville decommitting from the college and re-opening his recruiting process a few weeks ago.