What seemed unthinkable just a few months ago turned out to be a success culminating just a few weeks ago: the NCAA was able to hold its March Madness national tournament, the Baylor Bears lifted the trophy, and we all enjoyed some college hoops for a full season. Through the year, most of the 2021 HS senior picked places here and there, but by the time we hit March, there were still some very interesting prospects without a college attached to their futures. And those are the kids we’re talking about today.
With the college season well over and everybody now talking about who’s declared, who’s not, and who will become the next no. 1 pick or lottery selection in the NBA draft, it makes sense for you to have forgotten about what’s coming to the NCAA next season. No problem, though, as we’ll go through the commitments of top-100 prospects that took place in the past month-and-change. And it’s no slim picks, folks, as the group includes no less than four top-20 talents.
Definitely a packed crop of highly coveted players to discuss before we move on entirely to the 2022 class of ballers.
Who Are The Players And Where Do They Come From?
As I just wrote, up to four players inside the 20 best of the 2021 class (as per 247Sports Composite ranks) made their decisions during the last 45 days, and 11 of them overall belonging to the top-100 nationally ranked prospects. The full group was comprised of two top-15 talents (including no. 1 prospect Chet Holmgren), six kids ranked inside the top-50, and then three more prospects ranging from no. 55 to no. 95.
Those players ranked inside the top-100 are listed next, including their national ranking, position, current high school, bio, and star/ovr rating per 247Sports:
2021 HS Class March/April Decisions
|2021||1||Chet Holmgren||Minnehaha Academy (Minneapolis, MN)||C||7'0||190||5||10.000||Gonzaga|
|2021||14||Michael Foster||Hillcrest Prep (Phoenix, AZ)||PF||6'9||220||5||9.951||G League Ignite|
|2021||19||Brandon Huntley-Hatfield||Scotland Campus (Scotland, PA)||PF||6'9||230||5||9.933||Tennessee|
|2021||20||Trevor Keels||Paul VI Catholic (Fairfax, VA)||SG||6'5||210||5||9.932||Duke|
|2021||28||Charles Bediako||IMG Academy (Bradenton, FL)||C||6'11||215||4||9.890||Alabama|
|2021||32||Jaylon Tyson||John Paul II (Plano, TX)||SF||6'6||185||4||9.873||Texas|
|2021||38||Enoch Boakye||George Harris Prep (Mississauga, ON)||C||6'10||240||4||9.854||Arizona State|
|2021||44||Tamar Bates||IMG Academy (Bradenton, FL)||SG||6'4||175||4||9.822||Indiana|
|2021||55||Jonas Aidoo||Liberty Heights Athletic Institute (Charlotte, NC)||C||6'11||215||4||9.797||Tennessee|
|2021||90||Bobby Pettiford||South Granville Of Business And Global Commun (Durham, NC)||PG||6'1||175||4||9.629||Kansas|
|2021||95||Johnathan Lawson||Wooddale (Memphis, TN)||SF||6'6||165||4||9.612||Memphis|
It took time for the no. 1 player of the 2021 class, Chet Holmgren, to choose his next home, but he ultimately picked Gonzaga and will play ball as a Bulldog come next season. As if the Dogs needed more talent after making it all the way to the Final against Baylor this season... Anyway, here we are. And it’s not that Gonzaga doesn’t deserve this kind of recruit, as they’ve made the tournament every year since the 1999 season (no tourney in 2020, remember) while reaching the Final twice, those two bids taking place in the 2017-21 span. Talk about improvement.
But Holmgren is not all the last couple of months have brought. There were three more 5-star prospects picking colleges—or not. That’s Michael Foster’s case, who opted to skip the NCAA circuit and will jump straight to the NBA-related G League as part of the Ignite squad in time for the 2021-22 season, hopefully, a full one instead of a reduced, bubble-wrapped short one like the one we had this year.
No college other than Tennessee (no. 19 Brandon Huntley-Hatfield and no. 55 Jonas Aidoo) landed more than one of the 11 prospects highlighted above, with squads all around the nation getting their fair share of talent from the likes of blue-blood Duke to up-and-comers such as Alabama.
Have Those Prospect’s High Schools Any Track Record Of Top-Player Production?
Back-to-back top-11 prospects put in the national ranks by Minnehaha Academy (MN) as they got Jalen Suggs to rank as the no. 11 player in the 2020 class and now have developed Chet into the no. 1 senior of 2021. Talk about pumping out talent, folks. Jalen Suggs just carried Gonzaga to the NCAA Final this past March Madness, and now it’ll be Holmgren's turn to do so next season as he’s going to be a Bulldog as well. The pipeline is definitely there, and Minnehaha already has another player this close to cracking into next year’s top-100 in SF Prince Aligbe.
While Hillcrest Prep (AZ) is relatively new to the prep circuit, the truth is that they already have an impressive track record: three top-65 players last year and almost two more this season with Michael Foster (no. 14) and Brandon Weston (no. 78) making it to the 2021 top-100. What started with Makur Maker a year ago going to Howard is staying there—although definitely not in the same direction—with Foster skipping college altogether to join the G League and its Ignite squad. That’s not a new development around the Phoenix prep, though, as two of its 2020 prospects already went prep-to-pros last summer.
If Hillcrest Prep is the new kid in town, Paul VI Catholic (VA) is definitely the old grandpa. I have entries from the high school in my dataset (which contains that data going all the way back to the 2003 class) from the very first year it tracks. Back then, in 2003, Paul VI could only Nick Grant as the 273rd-best player in the nation. They have steadily improved, though, and they developed their first top-100 player in 2015 (no. 79 Frank Howard), followed that up with no. 24 V.J. King in 2016, sent no. 23 Jeremy Roach to Duke last year, and are now besting their best player-rank with no. 20 Trevor Keels who’s also attending Duke for the upcoming season.
I have covered IMG Academy (FL) a lot of times now, so let’s throw some curiosities out there for a change. The Florida prep has put out a total of 78 players (by my dataset, that is) with an average rank of 207... It produces prospects ranked 15th among those from the state of Florida... 34 of those 78 players ranked inside the top-100 players of their respective classes... It has three top-10 prospects in its history books, all of them coming out of the prep in the 2016-2018 span... IMG has two top-10 prospects (as of this writing) in the upcoming 2022 class: no. 7 Jarace Walker and no. 9 Jaden Bradley.
Scotland Campus (PA) is getting three players into 247Sports Composite rankings for the first time ever, led by no. 19 Brandon Huntley-Hatfield. Something similar is taking place at John Paul II (TX) as they have two kids ranked inside the top-32, with no. 25 the best out there and having committed to in-state Texas A&M a while ago. Even a smaller track record is available for George Harris Prep (ON), which has its first ranked (at all) prospect in no. 38 Enoch Boakye. Liberty Heights (NC) is just producing its second ranked-player ever in no. 55 Jonas Aidoo after having the no. 419 prospect on the board last year; and the other North Carolina-based prep in this column South Granville (NC) is ranking its first prospect ever with the no. 90 kid in the 2021 class. Finally, Wooddale (TN) is getting into the 247Composite for the second time in three years with no. 95 Johnathan Lawson after they produced the no. 88 player of 2019 (Chandler Lawson).
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:
- 24 Commits - Kentucky
- 21 - Duke
- 9 - North Carolina
- 8 - Arizona
- 7 - Texas, Kansas, UCLA
- 6 - Florida, Oregon, USC, LSU, Memphis, Villanova
- 5-to-1 - 50 Combined Colleges
Kentucky and Duke are clearly the top two universities at getting (top) talent. On average, Kentucky has gotten almost five top-50 players per class in each of the past five years, including 2021. And Duke, well, pretty much 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:
- Tennessee (2 top-100 commits)
- Gonzaga, Duke, Alabama, Texas, Arizona State, Indiana, Kansas, Memphis (1)
You might find it surprising to find Michigan retaining the no. 1 rank above Gonzaga, the latter of which landed the no. 1 player in the nation, but that’s how things are going to end this season. Sure, Gonzaga has recruited four total players with a higher average value, but all things considered, it is Michigan and its six combined recruits (two 5-star, three 4-star, and one 3-star player) that edges every other college in terms of total talent added.
Other than Gonzaga, Duke jumped inside the top-3 with its three 5-star players, which led the nation. Tennessee, by virtue of adding two more top-100 players (one of them a 5-start talent), is now sitting fourth, followed by Florida State, Kansas, Kentucky, Alabama, Michigan State, and Baylor to close the top-10 classes of 2021.
The rest of the colleges scoring themselves top-100 prospects through the past two months are Memphis (no. 11), Arizona State (no. 27), Indiana (no. 35), and Texas (no. 70).
What About Those Kids Turning Pro Early?
Glad you asked! I am not forgetting about Michael Foster, a top-15 prospect that ditched the likes of Florida State and Georgia to sign with the G League Ignite for the upcoming season.
If you followed our site through the past few weeks and months, or if you just paid the smallest of attention to news around the Association, you know about one of the stories of the year: the G League fielded a team that featured both vets and prep-to-pros players. And not bad ones, mind you, as they got to roster two potential top-5 NBA draft picks in Jalen Green and Jonathan Kuminga.
For the 2022 season, the Ignite squad will feature no. 14 2021 senior Michael Foster, quite a coup for the G League team and the L as a whole when it comes to paving the alternative way toward making it to the NBA. Not mentioned above as he didn’t commit through the past two months but actually de-committed from Gonzaga: China’s no. 1 prospect Fanbo Zeng. The international prospect will also join the G League Ignite for the next season.